Chelsea says Costa back injury (video); Report claims different

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It should’ve been a celebration of a comprehensive road victory, or at least a fun bit of chatter about a defender scoring a pair of goals.

But Antonio Conte was asking questions about missing striker Diego Costa, who was absent from the 18 with what Conte called a “back injury”.

[ RECAP: Leicester City 0-3 Chelsea ]

Other reports said the star striker had his head turned by a big money offer from China, and further ones claimed his absence had to do with a feud with Chelsea’s fitness coach.

Here’s what Conte said:

“Before the game I told the truth. I like to tell the truth. I don’t lie. Diego stopped training on Tuesday because he felt the pain in his back and from that moment he did not train. This is the truth.

“If there are problems, I prefer to solve them in the changing room and not in the press conference. If there are the problems.”

And then this story broke after the game, as The Telegraph’s Matt Law reported that “Diego Costa has been urged to apologize for the bust up that has cast a shadow over Chelsea’s Premier League title bid by his Blues team-mates.”

As for the feud with Conte, well, wow if true:

Costa is understood to have become involved in a row with a Chelsea fitness coach in training on Tuesday with Conte backing his staff. The situation then became worse on Wednesday as Conte furiously shouted ‘go to China’ at the end of another heated exchange.

You know who won’t like that story? Two-goal hero Marcos Alonso, who said the following after the game when asked about Costa’s situation:

“It was more you guys made up the story because it was his back,” Alonso said. “Hopefully he can be fit for next week. I think he’s very happy. He’s doing a great job for us.”

Chelsea is circling around their man, even as the amount of smoke seemingly demands that there be fire somewhere. If there is a leak in the Chelsea room, they did not do Alonso any favors.

Distrust in the media can be high amongst fans, but can this all really be fabricated? It seems very unlikely.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer clubs, players and personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.