Thursday, April 18News That Matters

Diego Costa takes swipe at Antonio Conte after Chelsea return

Diego Costa aimed a swipe at former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte after his ‘special’ return to Stamford Bridge with new team Wolves.

Costa enjoyed three successful years at Chelsea, scoring 59 goals in 120 appearances and helping the club win two Premier League titles and the League Cup.

In the summer of 2017, then-Chelsea manager Conte told Costa he was no longer part of his plans, with the Spain international returning to former club Atletico Madrid.

Costa has repeatedly criticised the way Conte handled the situation and made it clear after his return to Chelsea on Saturday that his issues are with the current Tottenham manager rather than the Blues fans.

The 34-year-old made his first start for Wolves but was largely ineffective as the club – who sacked Bruno Lage last week – succumbed to a 3-0 defeat by Graham Potter’s Chelsea.

Despite the result, Costa was glad to get the chance to return to Stamford Bridge and received a standing ovation as he walked around the pitch after being taken off in the second half.

The home fans chanted Costa’s name as he made his way back to the dugout, with the player responding by gesturing towards the fans and clapping.

‘It was special,’ Costa told ESPN Brazil. ‘Feeling that you did your job when you were here and then leaving with good memories.

‘Receiving this affection from the Chelsea fans… I’ve always had affection. I have nothing to complain about the Chelsea fans. When I was here, they always treated me well.

‘It wasn’t the fans. It was with that coach… Conte. I had a very good relationship with the Chelsea fans. I was a champion! It was in the year that we won the second title. Conte didn’t count on me as much and I couldn’t stay.

‘The affection I received today shows that I was never fighting with the fans. But I had to leave. It wasn’t my issue.

‘It was because of the coach at that moment. Today is proof that the crowd has always been by my side and had affection for me.’

On his return to the Premier League after a move to Wolves last month, Costa added: ‘I did not imagine returning to the Premier League.

‘It is the best league in the world, the games are always wonderful, the stadiums are full. It’s a new challenge, I know it won’t be easy. But I want to do something beautiful here.’

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