CHELSEA will have to accept defeat in their long-running pursuit of Atletico Madrid target Koke.
The Standard claim Koke – who was initially a target of former Blues boss Jose Mourinho back in 2014 – has no intention of leaving the Spanish outfit.
They report: The 24-year-old attacking midfielder, who will play in the Champions League Final against Real Madrid on Saturday, said: “For a hundred and something years Atletico Madrid has been among the best. How can I leave? Why would I want to lose all of this? To be an Atleti player is the best there is.
“Atleti is special. It is a family. I am happy where I am.”
Barcelona were also keen on the Spanish international at the time of Chelsea’s interest and Atleti responded by rewarding Koke with a new five-year deal in 2014, a contract that includes a £48million release clause.
That didn’t deter Chelsea, however, who last summer attempted to prise Koke away from the Vicente Calderon once again, this time offering Filipe Luis as part of the deal.
But Koke’s latest response will surely see the Blues admit defeat and move on to other targets.
One of those is Everton Romelu Lusaka who has made it clear he wants to leave Goodison Park.
The Belgian striker – who moved to Everton from Chelsea for £28m in 2014 – is keen to return to Stamford Bridge, claiming he has unfinished business there.
However the Toffees want £65m for their gun forward, a figure Chelsea insist they won’t pay for the 23-year-old