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Costa’s criminal claim just a joke to Conte


Chelsea’s Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge in London on December 11, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS /

Antonio Conte refused to make peace with Diego Costa as he laughed off the Chelsea striker’s claim that he has been treated like a criminal by the Premier League champions.

Costa is in exile in Brazil after falling out with Blues boss Conte during the close-season when the Italian sent the forward a text message that made it clear he was no longer part of his plans.

Conte had grown tired of the volatile Costa’s attempts to force a transfer throughout last term, but the Spain international revealed the contents of the text to the media, prompting the Chelsea manager to banish him from the club.

Costa has gone on a PR offensive this week, criticising Conte for freezing him out and making it clear he won’t return to England because he would only be made to train with the reserves.

Asked about his views on Costa’s latest outburst, Conte responded with a fit of giggles in front of the media at Chelsea’s training ground on Friday.

“It’s great. I prefer to laugh, it’s great, it’s great,” he said.

“I can tell you that everyone who was in Chelsea knows very well what happened last season with Diego. It’s funny, this interview.”

Despite Conte’s amusement, the explosive row has left Chelsea in a difficult position because only Atletico Madrid are seriously interested in signing Costa.

Costa played for the Spaniards earlier in his career, but they aren’t willing to meet the club’s asking price, sparking a plea from the striker to Chelsea this week to let him leave for a lower fee.

Costa, who still has two years remaining on his contract, has been told by Chelsea to fly back to London and start training again.

A Chelsea spokesman underlined that stance during Conte’s media briefing.

“Our position is clear. As a Chelsea player we’ve said he should return to Chelsea and that’s where we’ll leave it,” he said.

But Conte could do without that headache and he has no intention of offering Costa an olive branch.

“No. I’m not interested to continue this issue. I repeat: for me, it is the past,” Conte said.

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