Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Conte thrilled with Costa contribution after wantaway wobble

SoccerNews in English Premier League 3 Jan 2017

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Antonio Conte was full of praise for Diego Costa after it was revealed the Spain international wanted to leave Chelsea in the off-season.

Costa confirmed last week that he had considered departing Stamford Bridge – although for family reasons, and not for anything related to the Blues.

The move did not come off, however, and Costa has enjoyed a stellar 2016-17 so far, scoring 14 goals from 18 Premier League appearances to fire Conte’s side to the top of the table.

Chelsea can set a new record for consecutive wins in a single Premier League season when they go in search of their 14th straight success at Tottenham on Wednesday.

Costa is expected to lead the line again after returning from suspension to score in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Stoke City and Conte was effusive in his praise during Tuesday’s media conference.

“When Diego decided to stay he told me ‘I stay, I stay, I want to fight for the club and my team-mates and for the shirt’,” Conte said.

“I wasn’t concerned. He shows a great patience and in the right way. We are happy because he’s completely focused on the game and this is very important.”

With the January transfer window now open, Conte refused to discuss any potential targets by name, but did reveal he and the board were seeking to improve the squad.

“I answer always in the same way, I don’t like to speak about players that are playing with another team,” he said. “It’s respect for the player and for the clubs.

“There are some positions that if we are able to find the right solution … this championship is long and it’s important, but I also know the difficulty of the January market to find the right player. It won’t be easy, but for sure we’re talking about this.”

Chelsea can match Arsenal’s Premier League record of 14 successive victories – achieved between the end of 2001-02 and beginning of 2002-03 – when they visit White Hart Lane, but Conte insists milestones do not interest him or his squad.

“The players want to take three points, other situations are not important for us,” he said. “For sure it’s a great achievement because to win 13 in a row is not easy.

“It’s very difficult. We are pleased and we know we have a really tough game. They’re a good team, it’s important to try to continue our run, but it’ll be very tough.”

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