Premier League champions Chelsea will not hesitate in replacing Diego Costa should he move to the Chinese Super League this summer, according to former striker Chris Sutton. The Spain international is expected to take his leave from Stamford Bridge after the FA Cup final against Arsenal having been heavily linked with a move to China in the last six months.
Spanish radio station Cadena Ser understands that Costa, has an agreement in place to join Tianjin Quanjian this summer in a deal worth €30m-a-year (£25.9m, $33.6m). The fee which the Blues may recoup for the 28-year-old could end up approaching £76m – more than twice what they paid Atletico Madrid for his services in July 2014.
Should Costa indeed depart it would leave 23-year-old Michy Batshuayi as the senior striker in the Chelsea squad just 12 months after he moved to west London from Marseille. The Belgium international endured an inconsistent campaign making just one top-flight start all season but four goals in the final three games of the campaign – including the one which clinched the title at West Bromwich Albion – has enhanced hopes of potentially becoming the number-one forward under Conte.
But Sutton, who scored just three times in 39 appearances for Chelsea, believes Conte does not fully trust Batshuayi and that a big-money signing this summer is inevitable. "I've been impressed with Batshuayi when he's come on but do I think Conte has total faith in him? I'm not so sure," the ex-England international told Goal.com. "I think they'll be looking to buy a top-class striker and they're now in a position as Champions where it's an attractive club to go to.
"I think Costa's departure would be a big loss for Chelsea. I just wonder if Conte can talk him around. It's going to be an interesting summer in terms of who Chelsea are going to acquire in their recruitment because they've got the Champions League next season."
Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata and Everton's Romelu Lukaku have been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea this summer. Though Morata may be available for as little as £34m, a move to re-sign Lukaku appears more likely as he would count towards the club's quota for home-grown play. Clubs competing in the Premier League or in Uefa competition must have at least eight players who are "club-trained" or "association-trained" in their 25-man squads.
Former Chelsea striker Torre Andre Flo has backed Batshuayi to rise to the challenge of replacing Costa having enjoyed a goal-laden end to the campaign. "He is at a very good club and obviously scoring that goal must have boosted his confidence," Flo told talkSPORT. "He has shown he could be a really good player and hopefully he can step up a level and maybe take [Diego] Costa's spot.