Chelsea boss Antonio Conte's grand plan torn apart
Chelsea may cling to the vanishing hope Romelu Lukaku’s heart longs for an emotional return, but shock waves will be rocking Stamford Bridge that such a major transfer target has slipped away.
Unless there is an impressive escape plan, this will heighten tensions between Antonio Conte and Roman Abramovich’s chief negotiators Marina Granovskaia and Michael Emenalo.
Conte, according to reports from his native Italy, has not been satisfied with Chelsea’s transfer activity since last season.
Chelsea appear to have lost out to Manchester United in the hunt for Everton's Romelu Lukaku
Blues boss Antonio Conte identified Lukaku as a major target - the Italian has not been impressed by his club's work in the transfer market this summer
In return, influential figures at the Bridge point to Conte taking it into his own hands to text Diego Costa, scorer of 20 Premier League goals last season, and inform him he was not part of his plans.
Costa has been saying his goodbyes to Chelsea team-mates and hopes an offer from Atletico Madrid will excuse him from a return to pre-season training on Monday.
To lose the top scorer without a replacement ready would be unfathomable. Chelsea thought Lukaku was in the bag. They knew the asking price and were prepared to meet it.
They were told he was excited by the prospect of returning to the club and he had been in contact with Conte. But by failing to close the deal they have allowed United to seize the initiative.
Lukaku has often hinted at his desire to return to former club Chelsea but is now set for United
Monaco, too, are losing patience over Chelsea’s stalled £35million move for midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.
Conte anticipated a major summer recruitment drive but the only signing to date is back-up ’keeper Willy Caballero on a free from Manchester City.
They could turn to Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, who Conte tried for last year.
Andrea Belotti, who scored 28 goals for Torino last season, is another he likes. His release clause is £87m.
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich seem unrealistic targets.
The simplest solution would be to kiss and make up with Costa, were it not for a relationship broken by Conte’s text message.
Chelsea could now switch their attention to Real Madrid's Spain international Alvaro Morata