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The best for Griezmann would be to stay at Atletico – Costa

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Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann thanks supporters after the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg football match between FC Lokomotiv Moscow and Club Atletico de Madrid on March 15, 2018 in Moscow. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

Diego Costa has told team-mate Antoine Griezmann he is best off staying at Atletico Madrid.

Griezmann has scored 23 goals in 38 appearances for Atletico this season and said on Wednesday he wants his future sorted before the start of this year´s World Cup.

The French forward told L´Equipe he hopes “to travel to Russia without concern” after Barcelona were forced in January to deny they had already struck a deal to sign the player. Manchester United were also credited with a strong interest last summer.

Costa, however, who left Atletico for Chelsea in 2014 only to return to the Spanish club earlier this season, believes his current striker partner should stay put.

“He knows that we want him, that he is a very important player. He is still with us and he has not told me he is going yet,” Costa said on Wednesday.

“I would be happy for him to stay, everyone has to look for the best for themselves but, in my opinion, the best for him is to stay.”

Costa added, with a smile: “He called me every day to tell me to return to Atletico and now he’s not going to leave me. That cannot be, he is going to stay.”

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui appears to have put his faith in Costa to be the team´s leading striker this summer.

A strong run of form for Atletico, alongside Griezmann, has included three goals in Costa´s last seven appearances while Chelsea´s Alvaro Morata, his chief rival, has been left out of Spain´s latest squad.

It marks a stark contrast to the start of the season when Costa, sidelined by Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, was left killing time in Brazil, and Morata began his Premier League career with eight goals in as many games.

“It is very clear that it was not my fault that I was in Brazil. We all know what happened there but I’m back now and I want to do my best,” Costa said.

“The (Spain) coach was always very clear with me that if I was not playing then it would be impossible for me to be called up. But he also said that if I was playing well then the door would be open to me and I’m grateful to him for that.”

On Morata´s omission, Costa added: “I miss Morata because we get on well. Competition is always good. Morata has been having a bad time there (at Chelsea) but he is back now scoring goals and I hope he comes back with us and we can play together.”

Spain play Germany in Dusseldorf on Friday before hosting Argentina in a second friendly in Madrid on Tuesday.


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