Diego Costa's proposed summer switch to Stamford Bridge could be pushed through before the 2014 World Cup, after Chelsea opened talks with the Atletico Madrid striker.
Chelsea are entering a summer of rebuilding, with Jose Mourinho having failed to win a trophy during his first season back in England, ending the campaign on Sunday with a 2-1 win at Cardiff City.
As Ashton reports, Costa is believed to have a buyout clause of around £32 million, a figure which is very likely to be within any summer budget the West Londoners might have, especially for a player of such talent.
Mourinho has witnessed the 25-year-old's influence first-hand after Chelsea were knocked out of this season's Champions League by Diego Simeone's side at the semi-final stage.
Costa tucked away a penalty in the second leg of that fixture, but Blues supporters will now be hoping for that to be the first of many goals he scores at the Bridge.
The Guardian's Sid Lowe expresses his disbelief at why Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari allowed the striker to defect ahead of the World Cup:
Despite widespread expectation, Costa's arrival wouldn't necessarily signal the end of Fernando Torres' time in Chelsea colours.
The Spaniard's future was one of the topics discussed by Mourinho following the campaign curtain call in Cardiff, quoted by Sky Sports (h/t Mirror's Ben Burrows) saying:
Yes, he's in my plans. He's a good player. I keep saying the same—Fernando is not the kind of player that with half a chance, he scores a goal. He's not the kind of guy that's going to score goal after goal.
But the way he works, the way he moves, the work he contributes for the team...he is a player that I like, a player that the club respects and we are happy to have him next season, no problem.
Torres has struggled to maintain consistent scoring form during his time at Chelsea, netting just five Premier League goals in 28 appearances this term, per Squawka, one of which was Sunday's winner in the Welsh capital.
Samuel Eto'o's one-year contract with Chelsea expires next month, and the Blues' attack has been the weakest part of their squad all season. If the right additions are made, it could make the difference in next year's title race.
With the World Cup promising to pull more attention in Costa's direction, the Blues are taking the initiative in a potential deal, but it remains unconfirmed that his arrival will spell the end for Torres.
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