Spain and Chelsea striker Diego Costa is going to go a long way to determine who will line up as number nine for Everton next season, and he’s not even who the Blues want in that position. Strange how that works doesn’t it?
It’s simple actually when you dig into it, because Costa’s decision could affect Everton on two fronts. The Toffees star striker Romelu Lukaku wants out, and it appears he wants to go to Chelsea. The man identified as his replacement at Goodison Park is Sandro Ramirez, and he’s also been linked with Atlético Madrid, who are also considering a return for Costa.
Despite enjoying unprecedented success at Everton, Lukaku has always made it very clear that he sees his future elsewhere. There has been chatter about a ‘gentleman’s promise’ made last summer whereby Everton convinced him to stay one more season, despite the fact that he would still have two more years on his current contract to run.
More than once during the year, especially during international breaks, the Belgian outright said that he was looking for another club and would not sign a bumper new contract which was set to make him Everton’s highest-paid player in history.
However, between Lukaku and his super-agent Mino Raiola, it appears that they have been able to engineer a move to Chelsea this summer. What remains to be decided is what Everton will ask for in transfer fees for the record-breaking forward, a negotiation that the Blues hold the upper hand in.
Then last week the news broke that Antonio Conte had informed Costa that he was not part of the Stamford Bridge club’s future and that he was free to leave, via text message. That looked to have cleared the path for a Lukaku move since the precious Belgian had made it clear that he would not play at a team where he was not the undisputed number one striker.
At that point it looked like Rom would go to Chelsea, Costa to China possibly and Everton continued their hunt for a replacement, with another Spaniard Sandro Ramirez coming into the picture.
Enter Atletico, facing a FIFA-imposed transfer ban during the summer 2016 and winter 2017 windows for breaking laws regarding international transfers of players aged under 16.
When the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) rejected their appeal, meaning they could not add any player this summer, they immediately went into preservation mode and successfully fended off Manchester United for star forward Antoine Griezmann.
Costa immediately said that he wouldn’t sit for half a season in the hopes of playing after the January transfer window, but now it appears that he might be having a change of heart over that decision.
Meanwhile, Sandro was rumoured to be undergoing a medical with Atletico and then just days later was seen on Merseyside holding discussions with the Toffees. There is still a possibility that the Barcelona Academy graduate chooses to stay in Spain having played for Malaga last season, but it would mean being out of action until the winter transfer window.
At this point it appears the easiest solution for all parties concerned is for Lukaku to go to Chelsea, Costa to Atletico (eventually) and Sandro to Everton, but as we all know, transfer triangles are anything but straightforward.
Either way, it’s looking like Costa is going to be a factor in deciding Everton’s future at the striker position.