Antonio Conte has confirmed that the out-of-favour Diego Costa will never play for Chelsea again after the striker angled for a transfer away three times last season.
Costa was told by his manager that he would not be part of his first-team plans heading into the 2017/18 campaign earlier in the summer, but it has now emerged that a decision on the frontman's future was made by Conte as early as January.
In quotes published by the Daily Mail, Conte stated that there was no way back for the Spain international following his behaviour during the Italian's first season in charge.
Conte said: "In January, the Costa situation was made very clear. For the club, for him and his agent and for me the situation is closed."
To further push his point home, Conte has even banished Costa from training with the senior squad after the rest of his Chelsea stars returned for pre-season training in mid-July, and wants the 28-year-old to leave Stamford Bridge as soon as possible.
Costa, it is claimed, asked Conte to sanction a move away for him just weeks after the 47-year-old took over in West London last summer, but the ex-Juventus boss opted to punish Costa by dropping him for the club's first two friendlies during last term's pre-season schedule to send out a warning that such behaviour would not be tolerated.
However, Costa was at it again in the January transfer window as he came to verbal blows with Conte when the latter refused to allow him to depart in a big-money move to the lucrative Chinese Super League with Tianjin Quanjin.
Despite the pair reconciling, Costa tested Conte's patience again following last season's Premier League triumph - the third strike which proved to be the final straw in Conte's mind as he texted the striker to inform him he was free to leave the club.
Costa's former club Atletico Madrid are still believed to be locked in talks with the Blues over a possible transfer for the wantaway marksman, but negotiations are proving difficult due to Los Rojiblancos' current transfer embargo.
That's because he's a class act and Costa, as good as he is, is a Neanderthal— chelsea blue (@Mus__Hassan) July 20, 2017
The Lagarto-born footballer filmed himself wearing an Atletico shirt during a summer vacation last weekend - presumably in a bid to force the La Liga side to speed up their plans to re-sign him - but Atleti would be unable to register him to play until January 2018 when their transfer ban is lifted.
Rumours on Friday suggested a six-month loan stint at AC Milan could be the answer for all parties before allowing Costa to be reunited with Atletico, but no official confirmation of such an agreement has been made public.