Chelsea striker Diego Costa is available to face Hull City and wants to stay at the club despite reported interest from the Chinese Super League, manager Antonio Conte says.
Costa sat out last weekend’s 3-0 victory at Leicester City following a reported disagreement over a back injury, with talk of a move to Asia gathering momentum.
The Spain international was heavily linked with a switch to Tianjin Quanjian but new rules restricting the use of overseas players seemingly scuppered the club’s plans.
Conte says Costa has overcome the disputed fitness issue and is fully committed to the Chelsea cause, the Blues sitting seven points clear of Tottenham at the top of the Premier League.
“Yes, he’s available for the game,” Conte told a pre-match news conference. “He started training on Tuesday with the team and he trained very well.
“He has no pain in his back and for this reason he is available.
“The player wants to stay at Chelsea, he is very happy to play with us. I don’t see any problem.
“I heard a lot of speculation about Diego but now the most important thing is that he trained with us this week and he hasn’t got any pain in his back and is able to come back into our squad.
Conte: ‘Diego is a good player and a good person and now he is only focused on Chelsea and playing for us.’ #CFC
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 20, 2017
“Diego is an important player for us and we all know this. When he stays in good form he has always played with me.
“I will see [if he starts]. I don’t want to give advantage to our opponents.”
Asked whether the interest from China might prompt Chelsea to offer Costa a new contract, Conte commented: “It’s important now to be focused on the present.
“Diego is a good player, a good person, and now he is only focused on Chelsea and to play with us.
“He missed only one game but now he is ready to come back. I’m confident in his commitment and his will to fight with this team to try and win the title.”
If Costa does feature on Sunday, he will be making his 100th appearance for Chelsea in all competitions.
“It is a great achievement for him,” Conte added. “It is fantastic.
“I hope to celebrate his 100th appearance with a win.”
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