Diego Costa: Chelsea title a struggle without striker - Alan Shearer

Diego Costa
Diego Costa has scored 50 goals in two and a half years at Chelsea

Chelsea will struggle to win the Premier League if striker Diego Costa leaves the club, but they should sell him if he is disruptive, says MOTD2 Extra pundit Alan Shearer.

Costa, 28, has reportedly been the subject of an offer to move to China.

Shearer said: "It depends how bad an apple he becomes. If it affects the dressing room, you have to get rid."

The former England captain added that Dimitri Payet was in the wrong if he is refusing to play for West Ham.

The Hammers recently turned down a £19.1m bid for attacking midfielder Payet from his former side Marseille, and his current boss Slaven Bilic revealed this week that the France international wants to leave the club.

"I have not got a problem with players wanting to leave football clubs," added former Newcastle and Blackburn striker Shearer. "You are allowed to do that, but there is a way and means to do it.

"Refusing to play is not correct."

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'Title an uphill struggle without Costa'

Brazil-born Spain international Costa has been integral to the Premier League leaders this season, scoring 14 goals and providing five assists.

However, this week he became embroiled in a dispute with a coach over his fitness, which led to him being dropped for Saturday's 3-0 win at Leicester - although manager Antonio Conte said the player had a back injury.

His absence came amid reports of interest from the Chinese Super League in a deal that would be worth £30m a year.

Shearer said: "Chelsea will miss Diego Costa. He has scored goals, provided assists and been the best player this season. It will be a huge uphill struggle to win the league without him.

"He will dictate the situation. The players have the vast majority of the power. If the player does not want to be there, he will go."

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Conte 'knows nothing about Costa bid from China'

Ex-Blues goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer added: "He is a big character, he is always joking in training and if he throws his toys out of the pram, he will be a big disruption. Knowing what Antonio Conte wants, they will not want him around the team.

"On the pitch, he is as fighter, he wants to scrap for everything. Off the pitch, he is a real character among the players. He loves that position in the squad. Who knows? He may come back next week saying he had a back injury and it had all been blown out of proportion."

Telegraph football correspondent Jason Burt added that he does not think Costa will be sold in January.

"I'm not sure [Blues owner] Roman Abramovich will want to be pushed around by the Chinese market. He has spent a lot of money," said Burt.

"Sometimes an owner like this may put his foot down. He will not be pushed around. If Costa is going to go, it will be in the summer."

'Payet is a commodity'

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Bilic angry with Payet's refusal to play

Payet joined West Ham in June 2015 for £10.7m but has regularly been linked with a move away from London Stadium - despite being under contract until 2021.

He was on the bench in their 5-0 FA Cup third-round defeat by Manchester City, and was left out of the squad for Saturday's 3-0 win over Crystal Palace.

"If it is quite clear Dimitri Payet is refusing to play for the club, you have to get as much as you can and sell him. The dressing room is far more important," said Shearer.

"For manager Slaven Bilic to come out and say what he did, that was the last straw. He had nowhere else to go. When he put Payet on the bench in the FA Cup and put him on at 4-0 down, he was saying 'I am the boss, don't mess me around'."

Schwarzer added: "Payet is a commodity, you have to get as much money for him.

"The players said they had a close-knit unit and they showed against Crystal Palace they are together and can win games without him. Then they can bring in players to improve the team."

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