New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has confirmed that the club’s star striker will still be at Stamford Bridge next season and is considered to be of ‘fundamental importance’ to the Italian’s future plans.
Much speculation has surrounded the future of Costa, with his former club Atletico Madrid believed to be keen on re-signing him. The 27-year-old has made 77 appearances for the Blues since signing in 2014, scoring 36 goals. Some Chelsea fans seemed to turn against him when the club’s former manager, José Mourinho, was sacked, with many believing that the Spaniard didn’t try hard enough under the Portuguese’s reign at the start of last season.
The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ was sacked in December, having led Chelsea to their worst opening to a top-flight campaign since the 1960s. Costa, along with Eden Hazard, was targeted by a section of the Stamford Bridge crowd who felt that his performance level dipped in the wake of Chelsea winning the Premier League in the 2014-2015 campaign.
That led some members of the press to speculate that he might be on the way out of West London, with Conte known to be a strict task-master and Costa having had a number of disciplinary issues in the past. He has previously been given retrospective bans for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can, having a run-in with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel and for a clash with Gareth Barry during an FA Cup match against Everton where he also appeared to bite the midfielder, though no punishment was issued by the Football Association for that.
Yet Conte believes that Costa will be a vital part of his team’s assault on the title next season and that he’s likely to score a number of goals for the Blues. He said, “Diego stays with us. He is working very hard. He is very happy to work with his team-mates and with me. He is a fantastic player, a player with a fundamental importance, and there is no problem. He is an important 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”.