Chelsea striker Diego Costa has reportedly signed a pre-contract agreement with Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian for a fee of €90 million (£76.2 million), per Cadena Ser (h/t Jack Rathborn for ESPN FC).
The Spaniard will reportedly earn €30 million (£25.4 million) per year in China and will leave Stamford Bridge this summer, paving the way for manager Antonio Conte to enter the transfer market for a new striker.
Speculation regarding a possible move to China mounted following Costa’s meeting with agent Jorge Mendes at a London restaurant on April 28, per Tom Sheen for the Sun, although the dinner was reportedly concerning a possible takeover of Southampton by a Chinese consortium, as reported by Nizaar Kinsella for Goal.
But the interest from several Chinese clubs, and in particular Tianjin Quanjian, appears to be firm. Hebei China Fortune, Guangzhou Evergrande and Jiangsu Suning are reportedly keen on bringing Costa to the Chinese Super League, per Kinsella.
Tianjin Quanjian are the only one of these four teams to make their intentions public, however. Their owner, Shu Yuhui, has admitted that they tried to sign Costa in the January transfer window and will continue to pursue the Spain international.
“I can only say that we are still working on the deal [to sign Costa],” he told Sina Sports in April (h/t John Cross for the Mirror).
Costa has enjoyed a superb season under Conte, scoring 19 Premier League goals, although the vast majority of these were in the first half of the campaign. The 28-year-old ended a run of just four goals in 15 matches in all competitions on April 25 with a brace in Chelsea’s 4-2 victory over Southampton.
Chelsea fans may not be too upset, then, to see Costa leave the club if thoughts of a lucrative offer from China is affecting his form—particularly if Conte uses the money to buy Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, as reported by Rathborn.