Diego Costa has been dropped from the Chelsea squad for Saturday’s Premier League match at Leicester City over a row that involves a massive offer made to him from a club in the Chinese Super League.
The volatile striker has also clashed with one of the Chelsea fitness coaches over an injury he feels he has been carrying and he did not travel to Leicester with his team-mates on Friday. Costa has not trained fully this week and Antonio Contehas become involved in the argument.
It is the situation involving the Chinese club that has led to the greater consternation at Stamford Bridge. Costa, in common with an increasing number of leading Premier League players, has been the subject of a £30m per year offer from China and there is the fear at Chelsea that his advisers could be using it to lever him away. Costa’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is reportedly in China.
Costa has recovered his best form this season and his goals have been instrumental in Chelsea’s surge to the top of the table. The hierarchy have taken a dim view of the situation regarding China and, amid fears the 28-year-old’s head might have been turned, they have pledged to hold him to his contract, which expires in 2019.
Despite being left out of the trip to Leicester, Costa posted a message of support for Conte’s side on Friday night on social media, writing “Come on Chelsea!!!!” to his 1.7 million followers on Instagram.
Conte said at his press conference on Friday afternoon he had at least one decision to take in terms of his selection for the Leicester game. “I have to check a couple of situations and then decide,” the manager said. “I don’t want to say exactly what and give an advantage to our opponent.”
He was also asked, in relation to Dimitri Payet going on strike at West Ham United, whether he had experienced any problems about players refusing to play. “It’s very difficult to talk and above all for me, it’s very difficult for me to talk about another player,” Conte replied. “For my club, for my players, we solve our problem if there are problems. This is important.”
Conte has just won the Premier League’s manager of the month award for a third successive time – a record – on the back of his team’s 13-match winning streak but after their 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on 4 January, he has been consumed with bouncing back. He could have done without this headache involving Costa.
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