Atletico Madrid will turn their attention to Liverpool forward Divock Origi if their protracted pursuit of Chelsea’s Diego Costa proves fruitless, according to media reports in Spain.
Atletico sold Costa to Chelsea for £32 million (Dh154m) two years ago following the Brazilian-born Spain striker’s most prolific season for the club when he scored 35 goals in all competitions.
Costa’s debut season for Chelsea proved a success, scoring 21 goals to help the London club to the Premier League title.
The 2015/16 campaign proved a frustrating one for Costa as persistent injury restricted his involvement, although he still produced 16 goals in all competitions.
More football transfer news:
• Podcast: Batshuayi and Kante in, who else will join Antonio Conte's Chelsea revolution?
• Man City's Leroy Sane pursuit: City warned Real Madrid and Bayern Munich 'still in the mix' for Leroy Sane
• Granit Xhaka the 'perfect signing': Per Mertesacker expects Swiss midfielder to 'set the tempo' in Arsenal midfield
The arrival of Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi for a reported £33m from Marseille has cast doubt over Costa’s future at Chelsea, and his former club are keen to take him back to the Spanish capital.
However, new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has insisted Costa, 27, is an important part of his plans.
“Diego Costa is our player. He’s a fantastic player with fundamental importance,” Conte said on Tuesday. “He’s very happy and is working hard.”
If, as expected, Atletico fail to resign Costa, media reports have claimed Belgium international Origi is the next preferred target.
Origi, 21, emerged as an important part of Liverpool’s attack in the latter stage of last season, scoring five goals in the last six games, and manager Jurgen Klopp is an admirer of the forward’s potential. Atletico are keen to bolster their attacking options and provide support to star striker Antoine Griezmann, who signed a new long-term contract before starring for France at Euro 2016.
Fernando Torres has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance since returning to his boyhood club, but at 32, age is not on his side, and manager Diego Simeone is reportedly eager to inject some youth into his forward options.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport