Chelsea have received a significant boost in their hopes of retaining Diego Costa next season, after Marca reported Atletico Madrid were looking at alternative signings to their former player, believing their chances securing his return to the Vicente Calderon are slim. The Spanish publication believes Diego Simeone still has Costa top of his summer wishlist, but has grown increasingly resigned to the idea of not getting him amid claims Chelsea's predicted future boss Antonio Conte demanded the Blues not sell the striker.
Costa has been linked with a move back to the La Liga side since last summer's transfer window, after it emerged the Spaniard was not happy with life off the pitch in West London. Atletico failed to turn Chelsea's eye with a move though, with the hitman playing a crucial role in his debut season as the Blues won both the Premier League and Capital One Cup.
Simeone turned his attention at the time to former Porto striker Jackson Martinez. However, the Colombian failed to make the impact expected at the Vicente Calderon and was sold to Chinese Super League club Guangzhou Evergrande during the January transfer window in a deal worth around £31m.
Atletico Madrid's president, Enrique Cerezo, later admitted that the club would "do everything in its power" and use that money to pursue Costa this summer. The Spaniard admitted in an interview with Onda Cero in December 2015 that he could follow in the footsteps of Filipe Luis, who also returned to the club following a spell with Chelsea.
Marca, however, contend the arrival of Conte at Stamford Bridge would force a change of plans, as the Italian sees the Spaniard as a key member of his plans for next season. Costa has managed to rediscover his best form since the departure of Jose Mourinho, netting 15 goals and laying on 10 assists in 37 appearances this campaign.
Marca admits Simeone is still after Costa, and that the player himself wants a return home. However, Atletico officials have seemingly resigned themselves to the reality of not securing the striker and have started negotiations with other possible signings.
The publication claims Atletico have already approached Edinson Cavani, as the Uruguay international faces an uncertain future at Paris Saint-Germain. Gonzalo Higuain, Mauro Icardi and Carlo Bacca are also touted as potential alternatives to Costa, although Simeone will probably make one last-gasp effort to bring Costa back to the club.