New Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has rubbished rumours striker Diego Costa could be set to leave Stamford Bridge.
The 27-year-old Spain international has been linked with a return to former club Atletico Madrid after two seasons in England, the first of which saw Costa finish with a Premier League winners’ medal.
However, despite sanctioning a deal to bring Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi to the club, Conte is determined to keep the Brazilian-born forward among his ranks for his debut campaign at the helm.
“Diego is our player,” Conte said at a press conference in Austria yesterday. “He is a fantastic player, a player with a fundamental importance and there is no problem.
“He stays with us, he is working very hard, he is very happy to work with his team-mates and with me in the new idea of football. He is a Chelsea player.
“He is an important player, a very strong player, one of the best in the world and, I am sure when he goes into our ideas, he will score a lot of goals for us.”
Chelsea, who face WAC RZ Pellets in a friendly today, having lost their opening match under Conte to another Austrian side, Rapid Vienna, over the weekend, will again be without defender Kurt Zouma, who is making his way back to fitness after a serious knee injury.
“We know he is recovering, but I know he needs more time to recover. It’s important we don’t push him,” said Conte.
Meanwhile, the man who has replaced Conte as Italy coach yesterday said he should not be judged by his lack of major titles and that he had enjoyed “other victories” in his long career.
“I thank Conte for leaving me a group with a conscience and a profound culture of work,” said Giampiero Ventura, as he was officially presented as the new manager of the Azzurri yesterday.
The 68-year-old Ventura has enjoyed a long, steady coaching career, but, apart from one season at Napoli, he has never worked at any of the biggest clubs and has spent part of his time in the lower divisions.
However, he has a reputation as a good motivator who helps young players develop.
“If you are not the coach of one of the big-five teams [Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Napoli, and Roma], then it is almost impossible to win the title,” he told reporters.
“In terms of winning the Champions League, I haven’t done that, but I have had other victories in my career, such as the young players I have helped develop and reach the national team.”
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