Thursday, September 23, 2021

Costa will lead Chelsea against Hull City, says Conte

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Chelsea’s Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa (R) celebrates scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Chelsea at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on August 20, 2016.
Ian Kington / AFP

Striker Diego Costa wants to stay at Chelsea and will be available for tomorrow’s Premier League game against Hull City, says manager Antonio Conte.

Costa, 28, was left out of last week’s win at Leicester after a disagreement with a fitness coach, amid widespread reports of interest from Chinese clubs.

Chelsea said his omission was due to a back injury, and that training alone for two days was part of his recovery.

“He is very happy to play with us. I don’t see any problem,” said Conte.

“I heard a lot of speculation about Diego, but now the most important thing is he trained with us this week, he does not have any pain in his back and can play.

“He is an important player for us and we all know this. When he stays in good form he has always played with me.”

In the days leading up to Chelsea’s 3-0 win at Leicester, Costa was linked with a move to China worth a reported £30m a year.

The owner of Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian said he would like to sign Costa, but new rules limiting the use of foreign players had forced a rethink.

BBC Sport understands Chelsea do not wish to sell Costa and the Blues’ top scorer this season is under contract until June 2019.

Conte did not confirm if Costa – who has played 99 times for the club – would start against Hull.

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