Jose Mourinho's bid to make Diego Costa a Chelsea player this summer has hit a snag after it was revealed that Diego Simeone is doing everything in his power to delay the deal until 2015.
This season has seen the Spanish international emerge as the Blues' most highly speculated summer target, but John Cross of the Mirror writes that Atletico Madrid's manager is pleading with club directors not to cash in.
Los Rojiblancos recently beat Chelsea in the semi-final of the Champions League to set up a final against city rivals Real Madrid, and Simeone wants to build on their recent success instead of selling for a profit, as has been their model in years gone by.
Atleti are also three points clear at the top of La Liga and have the chance to record a historic double.
Earlier this week, Atleitco Madrid president Enrique Cerezo was quoted by Goal.com's Harry West in giving the latest on Costa's situation, ensuring that contrary to some rumours, no transfer has been agreed just yet:
It's not the time to talk about signings. There are three very important games ahead. Diego Costa was signed when he was 18, almost a child, and nobody guessed what he would be today.
Chelsea? We don't want to know when these games are so important. We don't want to destabilise the team and we can talk about this later.
I can say that there is nothing, not officially, from another club to one of our players. They're not on their way to another team. If the question is 'is there a deal for Costa' then we haven't heard anything.
Costa has been mercurial in filling the void vacated by Radamel Falcao last summer, improving upon the foundations put in place during the 2012-13 campaign and reigning as Simeone's attacking centrepiece.
The Guardian's Sid Lowe outlines just how well the Argentine has done as Atletico manager thus far:
Diego Simeone: ridiculous achievement. Took over a club in crisis. Europa League, then Copa del Rey, now top and Euro Cup final.— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) April 30, 2014
Turning to the Stamford Bridge exit, John Obi Mikel's summer departure from Mourinho's ranks would seem assured following comments from the player's agent.
John Shittu is quoted by the London Evening Standard's Simon Johnson as confirming talks are already underway in organising a move to Inter but notes that nothing is set in stone:
What I can tell you is that I met with my client and the directors and they are interested in him. He is a great player who has won the Champions League and the Africa Cup of Nations, so he is suited to Inter’s standards.
Inter is a possibility but right now Mikel is a Chelsea player. I cannot tell you anything more on the negotiations. The fact remains that Mikel now has a contract with the Blues.
That contract has another three years left to run, and so Chelsea are under no desperate need of a sale, but one would think the West Londoners would be keen to free up space in the squad for a more prominent member.
Sky Sports' Daniel Storey gives his brief assessment of the Nigerian international:
Jon Obi Mikel is a dreadful footballer.— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) April 22, 2014
Mikel has started in just 10 of his 23 Premier League appearances this season, and the figures of Ramires, Nemanja Matic and Frank Lampard have all taken precedence ahead of him when fit.
However, at 27 years of age, there may be another European outfit with the means to make something of a player who once had so much more expected of him.