Diego Costa: Chelsea striker trains alone amid reported China interest

Diego Costa is the joint-top scorer in the Premier League
Diego Costa is joint top scorer in the Premier League

Chelsea striker Diego Costa has trained alone at the club’s Cobham training ground for a second successive day.

Costa missed Chelsea’s win at Leicester on Saturday with a back injury, according to boss Antonio Conte.

The Spain international, 28, has been linked with a move to China and has reportedly fallen out with Conte.

Chelsea – who top the Premier League – return to training on Tuesday and the club insist Costa’s solitary sessions are to aid recovery from injury.

Costa, who has scored 14 Premier League goals in 19 appearances this season, missed three days of training last week and will be evaluated again on Tuesday to determine whether he can rejoin the first-team squad.

Chelsea, who have a seven-point lead at the top of the table, are at home to Hull on Sunday.

‘A struggle without Diego’

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Reports have linked Costa with a move to the Chinese Super League that could earn him £30m a year. On Monday, the league introduced a rule stating teams could only field three non-Chinese players.

Conte has not confirmed or denied any rift with the former Atletico Madrid player, and said that if such a problem arose he would deal with it in-house.

Former England captain Alan Shearer told MOTD2 Extra that Chelsea would face a “huge uphill struggle” to win the title without Costa, who is joint top scorer in the league with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

“Costa will dictate the situation,” said Shearer. “The players have the vast majority of the power. If the player does not want to be there, he will go.”

Football Focus pundit Mark Lawrenson said: “If you get £60m for him let him go. Have you seen Chinese football? It’s rubbish. He’s at his peak. The team is built around him, a top, top player. If he wants to go to China and be bored for 18 hours a day, good luck with that one.”

Costa has scored 51 goals in 99 games for the Blues since joining from Atletico for £32m in 2014.