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Thursday 23 November 2017

Conte: 'Costa's return should end exit talk'

The 28-year-old striker celebrated his 52nd Chelsea goal on his 100th appearance by gesturing about all the noise which has surrounded him since he missed the win at Leicester, officially due to a back injury. Pic: Reuters
The 28-year-old striker celebrated his 52nd Chelsea goal on his 100th appearance by gesturing about all the noise which has surrounded him since he missed the win at Leicester, officially due to a back injury. Pic: Reuters

Antonio Conte hopes Diego Costa's goalscoring return has ended talk of a move away from Chelsea.

A reported bust-up with Conte and his staff, as well as speculation over a move to the Chinese Super League, had little impact on Costa in Sunday's 2-0 win over Hull.

The 28-year-old striker celebrated his 52nd Chelsea goal on his 100th appearance by gesturing about all the noise which has surrounded him since he missed the win at Leicester, officially due to a back injury.

Head coach Conte, who was too busy celebrating himself to see Costa's gesture, said: "I hope with this game to finish the speculation about him, about Chelsea, about me and him. We showed we are a team with great unity."

The five-year deal Costa signed on his July 2014 arrival from Atletico Madrid runs until 2019.

Conte reiterated Costa was happy and under contract. Asked about the prospect of a new deal, Conte said it would be a club decision before saying "why not?" when it was put to him that a new deal for the striker would be a mark of his commitment.

With Chelsea eight points clear at the top of the table, Conte had plenty of reasons to smile broadly.

Rivals Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United all dropped points on Saturday and Arsenal narrowly avoided doing so on Sunday.

Dropped

"We had the pressure to win and to exploit this weekend," Conte added.

"A lot of opponents dropped points this weekend and for sure I'm pleased.

"Now we have (a lead of) eight points and there are 16 games to play.

"I think me, my players, we have good experience to understand that this league it'll be very tough until the end.

"To stay now in that position is fantastic for us. At the start of the season not one person thought this."

Hull's ninth straight away loss was marred by a serious injury to Ryan Mason, who was carried off on a stretcher as oxygen was administered after a clash of heads with Gary Cahill.

Mason then went to hospital, where he had surgery on a fractured skull.

The injured Robert Snodgrass was absent amid speculation over the Scotland midfielder's future.

Asked if Snodgrass would be leaving Hull this month, manager Marco Silva said: "I don't know. I hope no, because I want the player in the squad.

"He's a good player, an important player for us. Important players for us I don't want to leave."

Meanwhile, British brain injury charity Headway has praised the treatment of Ryan Mason after the Hull midfielder suffered a fractured skull at Chelsea.

Headway chief executive Peter McCabe said: "I was actually at the match and, while it was upsetting to witness the incident, it was encouraging to see the exemplary reaction of the medical teams."

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