Crystal Palace have no intention of selling Christian Benteke, despite Chelsea identifying the Belgium striker as a possible contender to replace Diego Costa. The Blues are desperate to improve their attack with Costa's departure from Stamford Bridge seemingly imminent, but their attempts have been continually thwarted.
The Premier League champions want £40m (€45m) for Costa, who has regularly signalled his intent to return to Atletico Madrid. The 28-year-old was pictured wearing a shirt belonging to his former club over the weekend in the latest indication he wishes to return to Spain.
Conte's pursuit of Romelu Lukaku ended with him joining Manchester United, leading to enquiries over the availability of Alvaro Morata – who appears bound for AC Milan – Torinio's Andrea Belotti and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund. Uncertainty over the success of those deals has led to interest in Benteke, though Chelsea would regard the 26-year-old as a back-up option in their squad.
Responding to the speculation, new Palace boss Frank de Boer has no plans to allow his leading forward to leave after he netted 15 top-flight goals to keep the Eagles from relegation. "The only thing I know is that he [Benteke] is happy here and I really want him to stay here," said De Boer ahead of the start of the Barclays Asia Trophy. "He had a great impact last season, especially in the second half... He's crucial for us and we definitely don't want to see him go."
Benteke returned to his prolific best during the twilight of the 2016-17 campaign, following a slow start to his career in south London, with six goals in the final 10 games of the season. That run included the winning goal against Conte's Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and a double in victory over former club Liverpool at Anfield.
Though the former Aston Villa forward does not possess the same mobility as Lukaku, his substantial frame would ensure he could ably replicate the physicality shown by Costa, whose return to Madrid appears on the brink of completion. Having fallen out with Conte during last season, Chelsea's top scorer from their title-winning campaign will not be involved in the pre-season tour of Asia and is expected to have played his final game for the club.