Antonio Conte insists Diego Costa’s absence from the Chelsea squad for Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Leicester City was solely down to the striker having a back injury, dismissing reports of a bust-up with the Spainiard.
It emerged on Friday that the 28-year-old – who is rumoured to be the target of a big-money bid from Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian – would be dropped for the trip to the King Power Stadium, so his omission came as little surprise.
Conte said ahead of kick-off that the division’s joint-top scorer had been unable to train after getting injured on Tuesday and he stuck by his story after the win, which restored Chelsea’s seven-point lead at the summit.
“I think that before the game I told the truth,” the Italian told BT Sport. “I repeat the truth, because I like to tell the truth and not lie.
“Diego stopped his training on Tuesday because he felt a pain in his back and from that moment he didn’t train during the week and for this reason he wasn’t available and this is the truth.”
Asked to directly comment on the supposed row, which is said to have involved fitness coach Julio Tous, Conte added: “I don’t know about this, because I repeat the truth is what I told you. Now we’ll see in the next week.”
Conte also claimed to have no knowledge of any interest from Tianjin Quanjian.
A Marcos Alonso double and Pedro’s late header secured the points against the Foxes.