After what was a disappointing second season in English football, Diego Costa has been heavily linked with a move away from Chelsea this summer.
The Spanish international scored 20 goals in his debut Premier League campaign but managed just 12 as Chelsea limped to 10th spot in the league last time out.
The addition of Belgian youngster Michy Batshuayi for £32 million, coupled with Costa's ill-discipline on the field, have seen him strongly linked to a return to Atletico Madrid. Now, though, new Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has attempted to clarify the controversial star's future.
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As reported by The Independent today, Conte categorically ruled out the idea that Costa was about to leave Chelsea. He said:
"Diego is our player. He’s a fantastic player for me. He is a player with fundamental importance.
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“For me it’s no problem to read there is a possibility to go to another team because Diego announced he stay with us. He is working hard."
With Batshuayi still away from the Chelsea squad as he recuperates after his exploits with Belgium at Euro 2016, Costa had the chance to send a message to his critics earlier this week when Chelsea kicked off their pre-season schedule against Rapid Vienna.
Unfortunately for the 27-year-old, the only headlines he made in the 0-2 defeat were thanks to an altercation he had with a Rapid player 13 minutes into the game.
Indeed, his ability to get into confrontations on the pitch was thought to be a factor in Chelsea looking to move him on after just two seasons.
According to Conte, though, he believes Costa is about to come good again once he acclimatises himself to a new style of player under the ex-Juventus boss:
"He is very happy to work with team-mates and me in a new idea of football,” he said. “The most important thing is that Diego Costa is a Chelsea player.”
Costa has already proven he can be a 20-goal-per-season striker in the Premier League, and Chelsea fans will be hoping that this vote of confidence from his manager will help him rediscover the form of 2014-15.
If he isn't able to do that, then you can be assured that reports linking the Brazilian-born star to a return to Madrid will once again surface, regardless of Conte's comments.
Costa, Conte and Chelsea's next opportunity to kick start their preparations for the new season comes on Wednesday when they face off against Wolfsberger AC.
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