On Sunday night, Diego Costa burned bridges with Chelsea like only he could.
The Spaniard filmed an Instagram live post in which he was seen partying in an Atletico Madrid shirt.
He even went as far as to tell viewers, including Cesc Fabregas apparently, to console Antonio Conte by giving him a hug. Perhaps revelling in the fact that the Chelsea manager missed out on signing Romelu Lukaku, who would presumably have taken his place as the team’s new striker?
The Italian tactician is now scrambling to find a replacement for Costa, who he informed at the end of last season that he no longer featured in his plans.
Sergio Aguero has been the latest to join the Stamford Bridge outfit’s shortlist while Alvaro Morata and Andrea Belotti have been strongly linked as well.
Who would be the best choice for Chelsea?
Opinions have varied but here’s an in-depth look at the three candidates and the likelihood of each player making the switch.
HOW HE WOULD FIT IN
Aguero has often worked well in a two-striker system but despite his diminutive stature, he’s also excelled as a lone striker at Manchester City. He enjoys having space to explore on his own, giving him the options to run the channels, drift wide or even drop deep to receive the ball on occasion.
The Argentine possesses great movement and is a slippery customer to deal with, peeling off the shoulder of the last defender in the blink of an eye.
Over the course of his City career, he’s benefited from having players like David Silva, Samir Nasri, Raheem Sterling and at times even Yaya Toure making forward runs and offering support in attack.
He’s fed off those creative players and, at Chelsea, would enjoy linking up with the likes of Eden Hazard, Pedro, Willian and Cesc Fabregas.
At 29, Aguero is still in the best years of his career and comes with vast Premier League experience and pedigree. His disadvantage in the air isn’t much of an issue when you consider the fact that crossing has not been a huge feature of Chelsea’s play under Conte.
In fact, the champions managed just 18 crosses per game last season, placing them 15th in the league in that regard while they were 17th in the league when it came to long balls per game (63).
One area that may be a concern though is the Argentine’s limited ability in holding up play. Costa was good at getting the players around him involved, especially on the break. His injury woes also warrant consideration as he’s never truly enjoyed a season in England in which he’s been fit throughout.
WILL IT HAPPEN?
There appears to be real interest from Chelsea in the former Atletico Madrid striker but City have immediately seemed reluctant to sell. Despite the emergence of Gabriel Jesus, the Citizens are under no pressure to sell.
Aguero could attempt to force a move through but that may only antagonise the club’s owners. On the other hand, the striker’s resale value may only go down from this point on and they would be wise to cash in now, particularly if they are hell-bent on bringing in Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal.
HOW HE WOULD FIT IN
As a striker, Morata is as well-rounded as they come. The Spaniard has no significant weaknesses and it’s no wonder Jose Mourinho and Manchester United were desperate to sign him from Real Madrid this summer.
Morata would slot into that No9 role perfectly and probably do it more justice than Costa as he combines pace and strength with intelligence and finesse.
Apart from his physicality and hold up play, the Spaniard brings mobility to the role and a goal-poaching attitude.
He would also be able to emulate Costa’s work-rate, something Aguero may not be capable of. He’s accomplished when it comes to linking up play, can dribble with the ball and can work well even if isolated in attack.
Morata may not boast experience in the Premier League but given that he has thrived in La Liga and Serie A, surely that shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
Furthermore, the Spaniard despite being only 24, is already in the winning habit, securing a total of 13 major trophies during his time with Madrid and Juventus.
WILL IT HAPPEN?
After his move to United fell through, Morata will be desperate to secure a transfer elsewhere in search of regular playing time during a World Cup year.
He’s definitely for sale, that’s for certain, but as United found out, only at Madrid’s price. Los Blancos officials are clearly in no mood to lower their demands so if Chelsea can cough up the fee, they will get their man.
Given that it was Conte who wanted Morata at Juventus, only to miss out on working with him as he opted to take up the Italy national team job, it’s safe to presume he is at the top of his list again.
HOW HE WOULD FIT IN
When it comes to Costa’s combative style, Andrea Belotti would be most capable of replicating, without letting his emotions boil over which is naturally an added advantage.
Chelsea fans would most likely take to him in no time given his fight, work ethic and complete dedication to the team’s cause.
The Italian has also built a reputation for himself as a genuine fox-in-the-box. His runs are impeccably timed and he’s always on hand to pounce on a loose ball. While he is more than willing to run in behind the defence and has the pace to do so, Belotti is also comfortable holding the ball up.
The Torino man is tremendous in the air, making the most of his 6ft 1in frame and Chelsea would be remiss if they didn’t tweak their approach to take advantage of his ability to attack a cross.
Overall, he would be a good buy for Chelsea and would score goals no doubt, but despite his reputation in Italy, the fact remains that he’s only had one truly outstanding season.
WILL IT HAPPEN?
If a deal were to be confirmed, it would most likely be a result of others falling through. AC Milan are known to be interested in the Torino striker and Belotti is a self-proclaimed Rossoneri fan.
Given his lack of experience at the top level and his price tag despite that, Conte may turn to the Italian striker only as a last resort.
French football sensation Kylian Mbappe is hot property this summer.
The forward has made a name for himself at AS Monaco as one of the most talented goalscorers with his performances last season.
The 18-year old scored 15 goals and provided eight assists in Monaco’s title-winning season. Not just that, many have also drawn comparisons of him with Thierry Henry, another French football great.
Thanks to his abilities, Mbappe has grabbed a lot of interest from many top clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid and a few others in the ongoing transfer window.
Joining him as one of the most sought after Monaco players this summer is compatriot Thomas Lemar with Arsenal showing great interest in the Frenchman.
However, the two Monaco stars may just have a massive divorce settlement to thank for their rise to prominence.
The video below from Kick’s official YouTube channel explains how the divorce of the club’s owner Dimitry Rybolovlev forced the Ligue 1 outfit to change their approach and invest in youth.
Francesco Totti has confirmed his retirement as a player by accepting a directorship role with Roma.
The 40-year-old Roman, who represented the Giallorossi for 24 years as a striker, played his last game for the Serie A club in May but his status since had been uncertain as he fielded offers.
In an interview published on Roma’s official website on Monday evening, Totti admitted his illustrious on-pitch career was a thing of the past and that a new life in football management awaited him.
He said: “The end of my playing career was May 28, 2017. That for me was an historic day.
“I’ll carry it with me forever. It will be hard to explain to people the feelings and emotions I felt that day.
“The first part of my life, as a player, has ended but now I’m heading into an equally important part as a manager, hoping to do as well as I did on the field.”
Totti made his debut as a 16-year-old in 1993 and won the Scudetto once, in 2001. His 786th and final appearance for Roma was as a substitute in a 3-2 league win over Genoa at the Olimpico.
Continuate a chiamarmi Francesco. Come sempre. pic.twitter.com/yusuvaClXA— Francesco Totti (@Totti) July 17, 2017
He was reportedly close to making a swansong switch to China or Major League Soccer but has instead hung up his boots.
“I never wanted that game to end, that day to end,” said Totti, who is Roma’s all-time leading goalscorer with 307 in all competitions.
“For me it was too important, too significant, too exciting. “The game has given me so much and I tried to give so much back to the people who have showed me so much love day after day.
“Now I’ll try to make myself available at all 360 degrees, from the youth team to the president. It might take six months, a year, two years… I don’t know how long it will take to find the role I prefer.”