Chelsea set to sign Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata but won't sell £44m Diego Costa to Atletico Madrid until he arrives

After missing out on Romelu Lukaku, the Blues were looking at Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Andrea Belotti but have chosen the Spaniard

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Wednesday 19 July 2017 17:05 BST
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Chelsea are set to sign Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, in a move that could finally see Diego Costa leave the club for Atletico Madrid.

Badly in need of a front man due to manager Antonio Conte’s desire to replace last season’s top scorer, the English champions’ hands have been forced by the lack of available top-class options and the failure to sign Romelu Lukaku.

The Italian coach has had a long-term interest in Morata, having previously signed the 24-year-old for Juventus in 2014, but the club had stalled in pursuit of the player as it was felt a deal for Lukaku could be easier. They will now likely have to pay Real Madrid’s asking price of £78m to get Morata, with the Spanish champions having previously been completely unmoving on price when in negotiations for the player with Manchester United, who then turned their attention to Lukaku.

That is one reason why Chelsea are holding out for £44m for Costa, who is still seen as almost certain to return to Madrid. While Atletico had themselves hoped to get him for a cut-price £25m due to Conte’s willingness to replace him, the English champions have so far refused to budge, while manager Diego Simeone has insisted they sign his former top scorer.

Sources in Madrid say that bringing back Costa as well as making one other top signing for when their player registration ban is lifted in January was one of the requests set by Simeone in agreeing to remain at Atletico for at least another year.

Chelsea are unlikely to sanction a move until they bring in a replacement with Morata the chosen option. AC Milan have also been looking at the striker for a while, but his first preference is to move to England, as he would rather not to play for another Italian club having had an association with Juventus.

The move for Morata was stepped up again as Chelsea negotiated with Real for Danilo, although they will now lose the full-back to Manchester City, as the Brazilian player opted for their contract offer, rather than the one from the Blues.

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