Chelsea and Diego Costa appear to have reached a critical point in their relationship. The misfiring striker was benched for the weekend trip across London at Tottenham and responded petulantly when he didn't make it onto the pitch at all.
He's been a mere shadow of the player who scored 20 Premier League goals last season and the questions remains, what happens now?
Jose Mourinho thinks there's nothing to worry about. The Chelsea manager quickly buried a bust-up with his striker with talk of 'hugs and kisses' and is happy that Costa responded the way he did at White Hart Lane, describing the behaviour as "normal".
"If he wants to hurt me it would not be with a bib. I have a good relationship with him," Mourinho added. The boss also made the point that Costa should feel lucky because he lasted far longer than John Terry, Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Eden Hazard and others before being dropped.
But the reality is, there is a problem with Costa, whether Mourinho chooses to publicly acknowledge it or not.
Putting aside the fact that he's only scored four goals in 17 total appearances in 2015/16, Costa's attitude and behaviour on the pitch have been nothing short of terrible. It's a point that has regularly been made over the last couple of months, but he looks far more interested in starting a fight than actually playing football. In short, he's a liability. Last season it didn't matter so much because he was scoring goals at a relentless rate - certainly over the first half of the campaign - now it really does matter.
Perhaps because he tailed off so dramatically from January onward it should have been obvious that this was coming. People were prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, but in hindsight those sentiments now look misplaced.
The worst part for Chelsea is that a summer of poor transfer planning has left them with no other options up front. Beyond Costa, there is Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao. To be fair to Remy, he has done a good job as a relief striker since joining from QPR last summer. But that's all the Frenchman is. He doesn't have the quality to pick up the slack and lead the line for a team that expects to be challenging for the title.
The plight of Falcao has been nothing short of sad. The Colombian has looked even worse than he did at Manchester United last season. Once the most feared striker in Europe, he just doesn't have the fitness or mobility to be a threat in an environment as fast paced as the Premier League. It was a gamble when Chelsea agreed to the deal, but the odds were obviously stacked against them so there is no one to blame but themselves for it not paying off.
Chelsea need a striker in January, desperately so and it's rarely a good time to buy. The Blues have recently been linked with several different options of varying scales from Thomas Muller, Antoine Griezmann at the top end of the market, to Saido Berahino and Jamie Vardy at a lower level.
Given their disastrous start to the season, Chelsea find themselves in a very difficult position. It's clear that this is not just a minor dip in form, it wouldn't have lasted anything like as long if that were the case. This appears to be a much more deep rooted issue. It seems unlikely that players like Muller, Griezmann or even Kane would actually choose Chelsea when they could have their pick of other destinations that aren't in the midst of a crisis - assuming they are even interested in leaving their respective clubs
Options like Vardy and Berahino aren't the answer either. While Vardy is in the form of his life right now, it surely can't last more than a few months. Berahino is a great talent, but doesn't, as yet, offer the quality that would take Chelsea to where they want to be.
It would take a monumental turnaround in form for Chelsea to secure a place in the Champions League in 2016/17. If they miss out, as seems highly likely, attracting top strikers to the club will only become harder - a problem that Liverpool and Tottenham know all too well.
What Chelsea do with Costa is almost another issue entirely. It's clear he's no longer worth the hassle, but moving him on might be trickier than it seems because there aren't many options for him. A return to Atletico Madrid has been suggested, but that would have to be with a big pay cut, while Barcelona and Real Madrid probably wouldn't want him, nor would Bayern Munich.
When Diego Costa first arrived in 2014 it looked like a stroke of genius. Now it looks like a nightmare and Chelsea find themselves in a real mess, one that will be difficult to get out of.
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