Interest from China in Diego Costa has been put on hold after the owner of Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian confirmed they cannot wait for the striker until the summer, with Chelsea unwilling to let him leave this month, and it has opened the door to a return to Spain at the end of the season.
Shu Yuhui, owner of recently promoted Tianjin Quanjian, is determined to prove his club’s top-flight credentials in China in the transfer market, and attempted to sign Costa to follow up the statement signing of Belgium international Axel Witsel, who now earns a reported £255,000-a-week.
Pictures emerged of Shu meeting with Costa’s agent, Jorge Mendes, to fuel talk of a move to the Far East before it was revealed that a £30m wage offer was on the table for Costa that would see him paid around £575,000-a-week if he agreed to the switch.
Shu has now confirmed to the Tianjin Sports Channel what was discussed during the talks, but appeared resigned to defeat in his pursuit of the Brazil-born Spain international after Chelsea blocked any exit until the end of the season.
"I made an appointment with Mendes and he came to my hometown to visit me. At that time, we were interested in signing Costa," said Shu, who also confirmed his interest in another of Mendes’s client in Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani.
"PSG told us Cavani would only be allowed to leave in June, even though the player himself was willing to join us.
"The same can be said for Costa because Chelsea would only let him leave in June. However, the new season of CSL will almost reach the halfway stage in June, we can't wait so long."
With interest from China waning, the door has been opened for a move back to Spain in the summer, with Costa determined to return due to his unhappiness with life in London, rather than playing for Chelsea.
Costa has been vocal in his admiration for the quality of life in Madrid, where he spent four years while playing for Atletico Madrid, and he has spoken publicly over how close he came to returning to the Spanish capital last summer. The Independent revealed on Monday that Barcelona, as well Atletico, want to sign Costa in the summer, with Chelsea willing to sell the 28-year-old once the season has drawn to a close.
Shu’s interest in landing a world-renowned striker doesn’t stop with Cavani and Costa, either. He also confirmed offers for Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Monaco’s Radamel Falcao and Raul Jimenez of Benfica, though added that they had a £45m offer for Falcao rejected by the Ligue 1 side and have had to scrap their interest in the others due to the implementation of new foreign player limitations by the Chinese Super League to try and curb the extravagant spending over the last two years.
"Our club had a massive investment plan for the new season but it was tightened up by the new rules," Shu added.
"We need an out-and-out striker so we made a bid for Benzema. We also made an attempt for Falcao. As a matter of fact, the club had even prepared the contracts for Falcao and [Benfica striker] Raul Jimenez. We had already reached agreement with them on wages and bonus.
"The pair were expected to sign the contracts, but the new rules forced us to give up on them."
Costa took a full part in training with the Chelsea first team on Tuesday, following reports of a disagreement with Antonio Conte, the Chelsea manager, during a training session last week.
Conte left Costa out of his side for Saturday's 3-0 win at Leicester City, but claimed that the 28-year-old striker was absent with a back problem.
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