Costa call cost Conte and Chelsea the title, claims Wise

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The Blues have staged a disappointing defence of their Premier League crown, with the decision to part with a proven frontman being questioned

Chelsea’s inability to piece together a Premier League title defence can be traced back to their decision to part with Diego Costa, says Dennis Wise.

Having swept to the crown in 2016-17, the Blues appeared ready to stake a claim for a period of domestic dominance.

Antonio Conte was, however, to end his first season at the helm by freezing out 20-goal top scorer Costa.

He was eventually moved back to Atletico Madrid, with Alvaro Morata acquired to fill his boots, but Chelsea have faltered in his absence to sit 16 points adrift of leaders Manchester City in the 2017-18 battle for supremacy.

Former Blues star Wise believes those struggles can be put down to one rather bemusing call, telling Sky Sports: “Costa – a horrible centre-forward who nicks goals.

“Today you see the three guys [Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian], they want to come out wide and deep.

“Costa battles and makes defenders make mistakes. That’s what Chelsea miss.”

Dennis Wise Chelsea miss Diego Costa

He added after seeing the Blues held to 0-0 draw away at Everton: “Someone like a Costa might have got them a goal and it would have been a different game.”

Wise believes that Chelsea now need to bolster their ranks in January in order to remain competitive at home and abroad, with there several areas of Conte’s squad needing to be addressed.

He added: “[Chelsea need] not only a centre-forward but a goal-scoring central midfield player.

“I look at [N’Golo] Kante and [Tiemoue] Bakayoko – they’re very similar… when can one of them really break into the box and score a goal?

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“Kante is great at what he does – he breaks everything up and Bakayoko is a bit like him. That’s what I think also Chelsea also need [in January].

“Frank Lampard did it for years and Frank hasn’t been replaced yet. You want to see more goals from your midfield two. That’s what I’d like to see [Chelsea sign] as well as another centre-forward who can get in there and is as good as Morata.”

Chelsea return to action on Boxing Day with a home date against Brighton.

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