Kolkata, April 12: Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant feels Antonio Conte's decision to allow Diego Costa to leave in the summer is one of the major reasons for the club's struggles this season.
Costa fell out of favour for Conte after the Premier League triumph last season. Conte infamously via a text message told the striker to leave the side despite the Spaniard being the top scorer of the club and helping his team win Premier league and reach the FA Cup final.
Costa eventually returned to his former side Atletico Madrid in January in a £57m move after going on strike in his native Brazil ahead of the season.
Conte replaced Costa with Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata in the summer. However, Morata has not lived up to the hype and has so far managed to score 14 goals till now in all competitions, in what has been a disappointing campaign.
Chelsea have struggled to score more often and it is believed to be the main reason for their failure this season which has seen them crash out of reckoning in Champions League and EFL.
In the Premier League, Chelsea are currently perched fifth and in all likelihood will loose out of Champions League spot next year.
According to Grant, who managed the club for one season, Chelsea hierarchy should have asked Conte to keep the Spanish international.
"You shouldn't release a striker like Diego Costa so easily and think that everything will be okay," Grant was quoted as saying in British media.
"Today the top teams don't release anybody. It's a new era because there's a lot of money in the game. It affects you.
"If you take Diego Costa away, you can see part of the reason why Chelsea has not been so successful this year."
Grant added that if his former side fails to make it to Champions League next year, they might struggle to lure top players.
But he backed them to bounce back from the disappointment of the current campaign and adviced them to stick with current boss Conte.
"Of course it'll affect them because the top players want to play in the Champions League," said Grant.
"But it isn't the first time.
"Chelsea wasn't there two years ago and even in the year that they won the Champions League they finished sixth in the Premier League.
"It isn't the first time, of course, it'll affect them, but the most important thing is how they react. Until now, after they've had a bad season, Chelsea have reacted very well."
"If I was in his shoes I would be desperate to have one more season to show everybody that I have the quality," said Grant.