Jose Mourinho has pulled out of his press conference tomorrow on the advice of the Chelsea hierarchy who do not want their manager to say anything that might compromise Diego Costa’s attempt to contest a three-match Football Association ban for his stamp on Liverpool’s Emre Can.
The Chelsea manager is understood not to have changed his mind from his first assessment that the contact on Tuesday night between Costa and Can – as well as the Martin Skrtel incident for which Costa was not charged – was “absolutely accidental” and would struggle to suppress his opinions of the FA when confronted with similar questions tomorrow at Cobham.
The club are concerned that Mourinho will get himself and the player into further trouble when questioned by broadcast and newspaper journalists and advised him to cancel his regular weekly briefing, a decision which the Chelsea manager was happy to go along with.
Football's dirtiest players - the contenders
Football's dirtiest players - the contenders
1/7 Diego Costa
In addition to his two stamps against Liverpool, the Chelsea striker picked up 10 bookings in all competitions last season. For a defender that might not be a terrible record but for a striker who doesn't strictly need to make many tackles, it's shocking. The chants of 'Diego, Diego' from Chelsea fans just seem to spur him on.
The Real Madrid man has built a career on being a no-nonsense defender. When he appeared to stamp on the hand of Lionel Messi during El Classico in 2012 he took it a bit far. He didn't do his side any favours in the 2010/11 Champions League semi-final either when he managed to get sent off during their defeat to great rivals Barcelona.
3/7 Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid have not one but two contenders for dirtiest player in the land. Ramos is a great talent, no doubt about it. But he's also an absolute liability. During the course of his career he's seen a stunning 19 red cards (although he didn't get sent off at all last season). To put that in context, that's more than Roy Keane (7) and Patrick Vieira (8) saw in the Premier League combined.
4/7 Luis Suarez
The Barcelona forward picks up bookings and red cards, but he also bites opponents (as Branislav Ivanovic, Giorgio Chiellini and Otman Bakkal can testify) and flips the bird at supporters that give him stick. A real contender.
5/7 Sergio Busquets
However, Suarez might not even be the baddest man at the Nou Camp. Busquets has been a central player in Barcelona's brilliant team over recent years but whilst the rest are playing tiki-taka, the midfielder can usually be found kicking opponents in the shin. He once stood on the head of Pepe, regularly dives and was accused of calling Marcelo a "monkey".
6/7 Philippe Mexes
If Mexes already had a reputation as a bad boy on the pitch he confirmed it just this weekend when he grabbed Lazio captain Stefano Mauri by the throat, an incident that earned him a four-match ban.
7/7 Joey Barton
Whilst the QPR midfielder parades as a reformed character more interested in philosophy than fighting, there remains a sense that trouble is never far from Barton. Away from the pitch he has stubbed a cigar into the eye of a young team-mate and been sent to prison for assault and affray for an incident in Liverpool city centre. Meanwhile he's been banned numerous times for on-field offences and most notably for 12 games for a training ground incident involving Ousmane Dabo in which he left his team-mate unconscious.
Costa’s case will be heard by an independent regulatory commission tomorrow with a decision on his charge for violent conduct due before the end of the day, in order that he knows his fate in time for the Manchester City game on Saturday. There is no danger of an extra game being added to the regulation ban under the rules on frivolous appeals, but the club is well aware that if the commission upholds the FA charge, the player will miss three games.
There is no scope for an appearance in person from Costa. Instead, the club submitted their reasons as to why they do not agree with the charge in written form by 6pm today. As per FA protocol, the three-man commission, likely to be chaired by a legal professional, is undisclosed, so too the time and location of their meeting. Costa’s case is one of many they will hear from all levels of the professional and amateur game.
The club are also trying to complete a deal for the Fiorentina midfielder Juan Cuadrado, who has a £26.8m buyout clause and whose signing will have to be funded by the sale of either Andre Schurrle of Mohamed Salah. A week ago, Chelsea were hopeful that it would be Salah who could be sold to create the space of Cuadrado but it is looking increasingly likely that it will be Schurrle who leaves.
The German is frustrated at his lack of playing time and has interested Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg, although the £25m asking price from Chelsea is high. The deal for Cuadrado is practically ready to go through and just requires the exit of one of Chelsea’s two fringe players to allow the club to go ahead. A transfer would suit then much better than a loan deal for Schurrle or Salah. There was hope that Cuadrado could be signed in time to play against Manchester City on Saturday but that looks unlikely now.
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