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Wednesday 26 April 2017

Costa doesn't need Chinese takeaway

Conte claims striker should be pleased to play for 'a great team like Chelsea'

Chelsea striker Diego Costa is the subject of a huge offer from the Chinese Super League
Chelsea striker Diego Costa is the subject of a huge offer from the Chinese Super League

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has insisted "money is not everything" as speculation mounts that star striker Diego Costa could be poised for a lucrative move to China.

The Italian feels playing for the Blues in the Premier League is rewarding enough, with reports circulating that the Brazil-born forward may follow Oscar in moving from Stamford Bridge to the Far East.

The striker was left out of Saturday's 3-0 win at Leicester after reportedly falling out with Conte - something the Italian denied.

Conte said Costa suffered a back injury on Tuesday but does not know when the 28-year-old will return.

Chelsea sold Oscar to Shanghai SIPG this month, while former Manchester United and Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez moved from Boca Juniors to Shanghai Shenhua on a reported £615,000 a week.

Chinese Super League clubs are prepared to pay enormous wages and bonuses to players but Conte said playing in the Premier League, and especially at Chelsea, should be enough.

He said: "The money is not everything. When you play for a great team like Chelsea, you must be pleased. This league is really competitive. I think that this league can attract every player because this league is the first in the world for a lot of positive things.

"For this reason, I repeat these offers from China are not a threat for our league. Money is not everything.

Threat

"I have to look at the past, also in my squad. Oscar played with us, had a good offer from China, he went and I can see that threat for my players.

"But I think we're a great club and it's a great honour to play for Chelsea and for this reason I don't see a threat for my players."

Conte also believes it is important Chelsea have demonstrated they can win without Costa.

"I think it's important to have another plan, to play without a number nine is another solution. It is important," said Conte.

"We show it against Bournemouth and again we play without a number nine and we won the games 3-0 and 3-0. It is important always to play as a team and then to have a different solution is important for me and for the team.

"Also because sometimes it is important to change, you plan part way through a championship.

"I'm happy with the performance - we tried to do our best," said the former Chelsea boss.

The Blues remain well placed at the top of the Premier League with a comfortable victory after two goals from Marcos Alonso and another from Pedro. Willian replaced Costa and played in a front three with Pedro and Eden Hazard as the leaders made light work of the striker's absence.

"It was a good performance, a good reaction because when you win 13 games in a row and then you suffer a defeat it's not easy," said Conte.

Defeat left defending champions Leicester five points above the relegation zone and boss Claudio Ranieri still believes the title race is wide open, but does not include the Foxes.

He added: "We expected something after (Chelsea's) defeat against Tottenham. I don't know who will win the league because there are four or five teams fighting for the title. It's not our problem now.

"Of course, I'm not happy that we conceded a goal at the beginning of the first half and the beginning of the second half, but if you take out those two goals, the match was good for us.

"We closed the space, we mirrored Chelsea with a 3-5-2 and it was good. We are used to playing 4-4-2 but we won 4-3-3 at Everton. This was different again but then it is important the team can change and understand. I am happy.

"We were expecting something special from Hazard, Pedro or Willian and maybe we didn't expect Alonso to score the goals. But that's football when you play against big champions."

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