Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has blamed Diego Costa’s absence from Saturday’s game at Leicester City on an injury he suffered in training this week and not a reported row with the coaching staff.
Costa, 28, trained alone at Cobham for three days and did not travel to the King Power Stadium with the rest of the squad after becoming embroiled in a heated argument with a fitness coach over the injury and being punished by Conte.
And Conte said in quotes appearing on the club’s Twitter account that Costa had been dealing with back pain.
“On Tuesday, Diego stopped training with a pain in his back and then in the week he didn’t train with us,” Conte said.
“We played without Diego against Bournemouth and we have had time to prepare for this. We’ve prepared very well.”
Conte on Diego Costa’s absence: ‘On Tuesday, Diego stopped training with a pain in his back and then in the week he didn’t train with us.’
– Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 14, 2017
Chelsea have so far declined to comment on the reported clash, and Costa’s only communication was an Instagram post in support the team ahead of Saturday’s match.
The clash occurred against the backdrop of a reported offer from a Chinese Super League club for Costa in recent days, but sources close to the player told ESPN Brasil he does not intend to follow Oscar and John Obi Mikel to China.
Costa’s contract runs until June 2019 and while Chelsea were reportedly keen to tie down their star striker to an extension prior to the recent dispute, there is a determination among the club hierarchy to hold him to the remainder of his deal.
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