Chelsea have the “financial power” to stop Diego Costa leaving and make him see out his contract, says former Blues coach Steve Clarke.
Costa has not returned to training after the summer break, though, and Clarke feels stubbornness on Chelsea’s part could see them block a move completely and leave the 28-year-old to rot.
He told talkSPORT: “At the moment Costa is making it difficult for himself. He hasn’t gone back to the club, he’s not training, he’s not earning his money.
“I think Chelsea have got the financial power to make him see out the rest of his contract.
“If Costa doesn’t want to come back in and honour his deal, then Chelsea have got the financial power to say, ‘ok, you’ll sit for two years and not play’.
“But that’s not an ideal situation for anybody.
“I think they need to get all the parties together, sit them down and thrash out some kind of a solution that’s best for everybody – even if it’s a short-term one.
“I think they need somebody at the top, probably right at the top – it’s probably a job for Mr Abramovich to be honest.”
Former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot has echoed those sentiments, with the ex-Netherlands international warning Costa that he is in danger of killing his career by battling against his current employers.
He told talkSPORT: "He will always be the biggest loser.
"You can never go against a club. You are never going to win.
"You can try as hard as you want, but the club has the longest breath. As a player, you have to make the right decision. You don't want to kill your career because of the situation he is in now.
"Both of them [Costa and Conte] don't want to work together. Now it comes down to Chelsea saying 'Costa, come here, let's talk about the situation and make sure you can go'.
"He wants to hold out and say 'I don’t even want to come back, I want you guys to close out a deal so I don't come back to the Bridge', but it doesn't work like that. No player can do that. No player has the right to do that."
The current situation stands in stark contrast to that enjoyed just a few months ago, when Costa’s 20-goal haul helped the Blues to recapture the Premier League title.