Nothing ever stays still in the hectic world of football, not even if you happen to be champions of the Premier League.
Antonio Conte may have had a stellar season in his first year in English football but he will have his work cut out next season to ward off a string of top clubs, all of which will have eyes on their title.
Diego Costa was a big factor in that title success and scored 20 goals in 35 Premier League games.
You are always guaranteed goals with Diego Costa but he does present problems for Conte.
In January he was linked to a mega-money move to China. This was a move that threatened at one stage to undermine Chelsea’s title surge. The latest odds regarding Premier League football betting at Sun Bets shows Chelsea as strong contenders for the title once again.
The Link with Lukaku
The recent news suggests that Antonio Conte wants to discard Costa and send him on his way.
Is this the right thing to do and will it ultimately favour Chelsea? Clearly Costa is a popular figure within the Stamford Bridge dressing room. However, Conte is a hard liner in the same mould as Sir Alex Ferguson. If any player crosses him then he gets rid of them.
He can handle the big players and the big reputations and he showed that at Juventus.
Conte is already lining up Romelu Lukaku as a potential replacement for Costa but will that be a good fit?
There is no question that Lukaku has qualities that Costa doesn’t have. For a start he is a proven Premier League finisher with age on his side.
Lukaku returned a highly impressive 25 goals from 37 games last season. That sort of strike rate would attract many clubs. There are many big questions that need to be asked but unfortunately only Diego Costa and Antonio Conte know the answer to them.
The Big Questions
Was Diego Costa merely using a potential move to China to make a point to Antonio Conte? Does Costa really want to play Chinese football when he clearly can make mega money in the Premier League? Can he repair the damage done to his relationship with Conte? Is Costa totally money orientated? Even if Costa wants to stay would Conte still want him?
Clearly Costa has discipline problems but that is what gives him such a hard competitive edge. Conte would never want to curb that in his star striker and changing a players personality is a very difficult thing to achieve. However when Costa was linked with a mega-money move to China then this was nothing short of calculated. Furthermore it undermined Antonio Conte and his teams chances of winning the title.
Clearly this was unacceptable to Conte and this is why he probably wants Costa out of the club. Will Lukaku have the same effect and be able to fill the gap?
Clearly Lukaku has to prove himself in the Champions League. This is what Chelsea aspire to do well in next season. Whether or not Lukaku has the guile to beat top class defenders remains to be seen. Costa is proven at that level but his chances of staying at the Bridge are slim.
A Clash of Personalities
Just like at Manchester United with Sir Alex Ferguson and players like Roy Keane, Jaap Stam and David Beckham, when you cross a manager with a big personality then there is only one winner.
Costa will come second in any duel that he cares to embark on with Antonio Conte. The manager is a proven winner and part of that winning DNA is being ruthless when it comes to getting rid of “bad apples”.
Conte is a traditionalist who believes that it is “his way or the highway”. He is a proud Italian and he is a “hard as nails winner”. If Costa does leave Chelsea,
Lukaku would certainly relish a return to the Bridge. Whether that will be a step up or a step down from having Diego Costa remains to be seen.
Carl Sampson is a full-time poker player, sports writer and sports bettor.