Costa showed his class by winning stages to Gap and Le Grand-Bornand at the Tour de France. In June he won the Tour de Suisse for a second consecutive season, confirming his stage race ability.
Costa said he would decide his future after the Tour de France, with his present team Movistar also keen to retain his services. However his WorldTour points and results mean he can command a salary of over one million Euro a season.
According to Biciciclismo, Astana and Lampre-Merida are now fighting to sign Costa.
Lampre-Merida is desperate to sign successful riders after its poor 2013 season. Michele Scarponi is believed to be leaving the Italian team and Damiano Cunego's career appears in steep decline. Lampre-Merida has ensured Diego Ulissi's services and Filippo Pozzato is under contract until 2015 but the team is likely to become more international due to Merida's growing influence.
Costa returns to racing at the Hamburg Vattenfall Cyclassics (August 25) and will then ride the Canadian WorldTour races before leading the Portugal team at the world road race championships in Tuscany at the end of September.
Lampre-Merida loses Malori but close to securing Modolo
According to reports in Italy, Lampre-Merida is active in the transfer market but like many Italian teams is losing its best riders to better organised and richer teams.
Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Wednesday that Adriano Malori is the latest rider in the Italian cycling brain drain. The 25-year-old is set to join Movistar after the new-look Trek team also made him an offer.
Malori wore the pink jersey at the 2012 Giro d'Italia and won the Bayern Rundfahrt stage race this year. He is Italy's bet hope in the flat and fast time trial course at the world championships.
Both Moreno Moser and Elia Viviani will stay with Cannondale in 2014 and Sacha Modolo could finally make the step up to the WorldTour and join Lampre-Merida for 2014. However, other talented young Italian riders are leaving Italian teams for bigger WorldTour squads.
Fabio Felline will ride for Trek after riding for Androni Giocattoli this year, Matteo Trentin is happy to stay with Omega Pharma-Quick Step after winning a stage at the Tour de France, while Salvatore Puccio has extended his contract with Team Sky after wearing the pink jersey for a day and riding well at the Giro d'Italia.
Ivan Santaromita secured his future by winning the Italian national title in June but opted to join Orica-GreenEdge after leaving BMC, instead of taking his 'tricolore' jersey to an Italian squad.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Matteo Rabottini – a stage winner at the 2012 Giro d'Italia and winner of mountain's competition, has several offers from teams outside of Italy, while Ignazio Moser, the son of the 70s star Francesco Moser, is doing well at the BMC development team and is likely to make the step up to the pro ranks with the US-based team rather than with an Italian team.
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