herald

Friday 15 December 2017

'I'm not a criminal' blasts Costa amid Chelsea exile

Chelsea’s Diego Costa
Chelsea’s Diego Costa

Diego Costa has criticised Chelsea's treatment of him this summer, saying he is "not a criminal" and is prepared to remain in exile in Brazil for a year.

The 28-year-old Brazil-born Spain striker joined Chelsea from Atletico Madrid in July 2014 and has twice won the Premier League title during his three years at Stamford Bridge.

Costa claims he was told he was not wanted by head coach Antonio Conte by text message in the summer and the frontman wishes to return to Atletico. The Blues declined to respond to Costa's comments and Conte has recently been reluctant to discuss Costa, describing the situation as "the past".

Chelsea have previously insisted the decision for Costa to leave this summer was made in January, with both the player and his agent, Jorge Mendes, aware. "I am waiting for Chelsea to set me free," the player said. "I didn't want to leave. I was happy. When the manager does not want you, you have to go.

"I am open to being a year in Brazil without playing, even if Chelsea fine me for a year and don't pay me. I'll come back stronger. If I was in the wrong, I'd go back now and do as they say."

In Costa's absence, the Blues lost 3-2 to Burnley on Saturday's opening day of the Premier League season.

Arrival

Costa has two years remaining on the contract signed with Chelsea on his arrival from Atletico, but, after being granted an additional week of leave and missing the pre-season tour to Asia, Costa is still to return to London around two weeks after his expected arrival.

The striker, speaking at his family home in Lagarto, Brazil, said he has not reported for training as he does not want to train with the Blues' reserves, and is happy staying in Brazil and paying club fines until his future is resolved.

He added: "They gave me a week extra off but since then it's fines all the way. They want me training with the reserves. I am not going to do that.

"I am not a criminal and I am not in the wrong here. So, if they need to fine me, let them fine me."

Costa hopes to sort his future out quickly but is prepared to miss a year of playing rather than move somewhere other than Atletico, who are under a transfer embargo until January. "My desire is to go to Atletico. I have rejected other offers," he added.

"If I'm off, I'm going to the club I want to go to, not the club that's paying the most."

The striker said he was happy at Stamford Bridge until Conte made it clear he had no future in the Italian's team.

The friction can be traced to January, when Costa missed the Premier League trip to Leicester after a rumoured behind-the-scenes row with Conte and his coaching staff following speculation over a mega-money move to China.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News