Antonio Conte: No regrets about failure to land Romelu Lukaku

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte insists he has no regrets over his failed pursuit of Romelu Lukaku and hailed in-form Diego Costa as the “complete player”.

Costa leads the Premier League scoring charts with eight goals this season, while Lukaku, who Chelsea moved for in the summer, has found the back of the net on seven occasions.

The two strikers will go head to head against one another in today’s late kick-off when Chelsea play host to Everton at Stamford Bridge.

Brazil-born Costa struggled for form and goals under former boss Jose Mourinho last season, leading the Blues to show an interest in the player whom they sold to Everton in 2014.

But Costa, 28, has thrived under Conte at Chelsea this year, and his recent goal at Southampton was his 40th in the Premier League from 64 appearances.

Asked if he had any regrets over the failure to sign Lukaku in the summer, Conte replied. “Absolutely not. We have Diego who is playing fantastic football — not only scoring goals but working a lot and very well for the team.

“I think I am seeing a complete player in Diego. It is fantastic for me to have him in the team, and also because he is scoring a lot. 

“Everybody is working a lot for the team and that is very important.

“Lukaku for sure is a very good player. He is young and improving a lot, but I am very satisfied with my players. In this case I hope Diego continues this way because his commitment is incredible.”

Chelsea, fourth in the table, are four points and two places better off than their opponents after winning four successive matches.

In contrast, Everton have won just once from their last six games in all competitions.

But Chelsea failed to beat Everton in their three matches last term, and Conte believes the Toffees will provide his side with a challenging test.

“They are very dangerous,” Conte added. “In the last season we never won against Everton and it is important to remember this.”

Conte meanwhile, refused to rule out that Cesc Fabregas, who has started just one league game this season, would leave the club on loan in January.

“I think for this type of situation it is too early to talk,” Conte said. Conte believes Eden Hazard is back on the right path to becoming one of the world’s best players.

The Belgium international’s current sizzling form is a far cry from last season. 

After being crowned the best player in the Premier League in 2015, Hazard appeared to lose his way and had to wait until April 23 to register his first league strike.

“I know the great talent of Eden and he must continue to work and to improve all the time,” said Conte.

“In this moment he is putting his talent and himself in the team. This is fantastic and the right way to become one of the best in the world.”

Meanwhile, Everton winger Kevin Mirallas agrees with boss Ronald Koeman’s assessment that he needs to be making a greater impact in the Toffees attack.

Mirallas has provided only one goal and one assist so far this term in 10 Premier League appearances.

Mirallas said: “Personally, I need to create more, score more goals and get more assists.

“I have spoken to the manager and he has told me I have been playing well but he wants more, and I agreed.”


Lifestyle

Liz O’Brien talks to Niall Breslin about his admiration for frontline staff, bereavement in lockdown, his new podcast, and why it's so important for us all just to slow down.Niall Breslin talks about losing his uncle to coronavirus

Podcasts are often seen as a male domain — see the joke, 'What do you call two white men talking? A podcast'.Podcast corner: Three new podcasts from Irish women that you should listen to

Esther McCarthy previews some of the Fleadh’s Irish and international offerings.How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch

Whether you’re on staycation or risking a trip away, Marjorie Brennan offers suggestions on novels for a wide variety of tastesThe best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summer

More From The Irish Examiner