By Chelsea correspondent Tony Hughes
Diego Costa’s Chelsea future is under fresh doubt after Jose Mourinho questioned the striker’s ability to read the game.
Mourinho insisted a line had been drawn under his midweek spat with Costa but explained what the £35million signing must do to return to the goalscoring form that propelled the club’s title challenge last season.
Costa has scored just four goals this season and only seven in 29 appearances stretching back to January.
Frustration had boiled over in stoppage time at the end of the first half of Tuesday night’s 4-0 win at Maccabi Tel-Aviv, when Costa, with a tap-in on offer, failed to react to an Eden Hazard pass.
Mourinho made his disappointment clear on the touchline, with his assistant Rui Faria attempting to calm down the manager, only for Costa to respond in kind as the players departed the pitch, prompting a vocal verbal exchange in the tunnel. The Spain international furiously brushed off attempts by Oscar and John Terry to intervene.
Speaking at his media briefing on Friday afternoon, Mourinho said: “In the game I told him, from a distance, that I was not happy with the movement he did. He told me a few ‘nice words’ from where he was. And nothing happened. Nothing happened at half-time.
“Everything is OK, no problem, no problem. But he’s not reading the game properly in these actions. That was my opinion. As a striker he must read.
“You have to play not only when you have the ball but when others have the ball. You have to anticipate things and read the game faster. Everything is an accumulation [of confidence]. You’re not on fire again just because you’ve scored a winning goal against Norwich. It’s all a process.”
With Radamel Falcao injured and Lois Remy’s wife due to give birth, Costa will continue to lead the Chelsea line in Sunday’s clash against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
However, Mourinho’s public criticism of the striker will throw further doubt on his Stamford Bridge future.
As reported by Football Insider, the 27-year-old is hankering after a return to Spain and could be part-exchanged with long-time target Antoine Griezmann next summer.