Costa hits out at 'criminal' treatment

LONDON • Diego Costa has accused Chelsea of treating him like a "criminal" and revealed he will not return to the club, whom he still hopes will sanction his return to Atletico Madrid.

The striker, who has been told by Antonio Conte he has no future at Stamford Bridge, told the Daily Mail that the Chelsea manager lacks charisma and that he is happy to continue accepting fines for refusing to train with the reserves at the club's Cobham training base.

"They want me to be there training with the reserves," the 28-year-old said.

"I wouldn't be allowed access to the first-team dressing room and I would have no contact with the guys. I'm not a criminal. I don't think it is fair after all I have done to be treated like that.

"So, if they need to fine me, let them fine me. I take the hit every week but I'm not driven by money. You know that the manager doesn't want me.

"I am waiting for Chelsea to set me free. I didn't want to leave. I was happy. When the manager does not want you, you have to go."

Costa, the scorer of 20 league goals as Chelsea won the title last season, said he was close to agreeing a new contract as recently as January. He believes Conte intervened before he could put pen to paper.

"I was on the brink of renewing my contract and they put the brakes on it," the Spain international said. "I suspect the manager was behind it.

"I respect him as a great coach. He has done a good job and I can see that. But as a person - no. He is not a coach who is very close with his players. He is very distant. He doesn't possess... charisma."

Costa remains hopeful of securing a return to Atletico, where he played for four years between 2010 and 2014 before joining Chelsea, then managed by Jose Mourinho.

"I want the deal with Atletico resolved this month," he added. "My idea would be to go to Madrid, train there, get in the best physical shape and be ready to fire ahead of the World Cup."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Costa hits out at 'criminal' treatment'. Print Edition | Subscribe