Diego Costa and Chelsea are engaged in legal proceedings as the acrimonious battle to resolve the unsettled striker’s future drags on, sources have confirmed to ESPN FC.
Chelsea begin their Premier League title defence against Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday without their top scorer last season, who has remained in his home town of Lagarto in Brazil while talks continue over a move back to Atletico Madrid.
Last week, Costa’s lawyer Ricardo Cardoso threatened to utilise “all possible legal mechanisms” against Chelsea and submit a formal transfer request in response to what he referred to as the “discriminatory behaviour” of head coach Antonio Conte towards his client, who was informed by text earlier this summer that his career at Stamford Bridge was over.
Chelsea’s position is that Costa and his representatives were made aware in January that he would not be in Conte’s plans for this season, and a club spokesman later described Cardoso’s allegations against the Blues head coach as “nonsense.”
But sources with knowledge of the situation have confirmed that the dispute is now a legal matter, though details of the proceedings have not been disclosed.
There is no timeframe for Costa to return to England and the expectation remains that he will be sold to Atletico in the final three weeks of the transfer window, though the Spanish club remain some way off meeting Chelsea’s valuation of the 28-year-old.
Costa’s absence, coupled with injuries to Eden Hazard and Pedro Rodriguez, means that Conte is likely to pick both Michy Batshuayi and club-record signing Alvaro Morata in his starting XI against Burnley.