Diego Costa is going nowhere.
That’s the message from new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte who discussed reports linking Costa with a move away from Stamford Bridge.
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There’s been constant speculation this summer that Costa, 27, will head back to Atletico Madrid after stalling in his second season at Chelsea.
The Spanish international striker scored 12 goals in 28 Premier League appearances in 2015-16, while he scored 20 in 26 outings during Chelsea’s 2014-15 title-winning campaign.
Conte was protective over Costa when asked by the media about his future in west London.
“Diego is our player. He is a fantastic player, a player with a fundamental importance and there is no problem,” Conte said. “He stays with us, he is working very hard, he is very happy to work with his teammates and with me in the new idea of football. He is a Chelsea player. He is an important player, a very strong player, one of the best in the world, and I am sure when he goes into our ideas he will score a lot of goals for us.”
Conte obviously wants Costa around next season but with Michy Batshuayi arriving for $40 million this summer, the towering Belgian will provide plenty of competition for Costa.
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We all know about Costa’s qualities as a bulldog on the pitch who chases down lost causes, puts his body on the line for the team and often gets wrapped up in the heat of the battle.
His penchant for picking up suspensions must stop and under Conte he must mature. With the Italian manager a hugely motivated, passionate individual on the sidelines, he and Costa seem like two peas in a pod but Conte will likely bring more discipline to the striker.
If Costa stays injury free and out of trouble this season, he could return to the kind of player Conte is describing.