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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes striker Diego Costa wants to stay at Stamford Bridge and he confirmed the Spaniard is available for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Hull City.
Costa was absent from Conte’s squad for last weekend’s defeat of Leicester City, officially because of a back injury, but it was widely rumoured the forward had fallen out with the manager over a £30 million-per-year offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian, per Sky Sports News HQ.
However, the Italian boss moved to put the issue in the past before the Hull clash, per The Sun‘s Lee Astley:
He is available for the game against Hull City. He started training on Tuesday with the team. he trained very well, he has no pain in his back and is available. […]
I think he wants to stay with Chelsea. He is very happy to play. His decision is in his mind but he is happy and happy to stay here and play for us.
I don’t see any problem with him. After the game against Leicester, I told you the truth. And I repeat I had a lot of specialisation about Diego. But the most important thing is that he trained with us, has no pain, and is available to come back against Hull City.
Conte also confirmed that Chelsea are considering an offer for back-up goalkeeper Asmir Begovic but insisted the Bosnian remains an important player for him, per ESPN FC’s Liam Twomey:
Conte on Begovic: “Asmir is important player for me, on & off the pitch. He knows this. There is this offer. Me & the club are evaluating”
— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) January 20, 2017
According to Matt Law in the Telegraph, the Blues turned down an opening bid from Bournemouth for Begovic but could sell him if they are offered more money.
Thibaut Courtois is the undisputed No. 1 at Chelsea and has been excellent so far this season, but Begovic is a quality goalkeeper himself and could demand a starting spot at a number of other clubs.
Conte will have the luxury of selecting from his full squad for the Hull match after confirming there are no injury worries ahead of the Stamford Bridge game, per ESPN FC’s Ben Dinnery:
No fresh injury concerns. John Terry is available after serving his one match ban. “This week we have all our players available.” #CFC
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) January 20, 2017
Costa will not necessarily slip straight back into the starting lineup despite his impressive form this season as Chelsea looked excellent against Leicester playing Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard in the front three.
The Italian manager indicated he could lose some sleep attempting to select his team, per The Independent’s Miguel Delaney:
Conte on formations without Costa etc: “I sleep some hours less to make the decision, but this is my task”
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) January 20, 2017
Chelsea are leading the Premier League by seven points and are unlikely to be troubled by a Hull side battling in the relegation zone.
Their march to the title has got firmly back on track after a recent loss to Tottenham Hotspur and the end of the Costa saga can surely only help them in their bid to win the league.