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Conte thanks Costa for Blues contribution

Published on: Sep 22, 2017 at 10:48pm

LONDON -- Antonio Conte has thanked Diego Costa for his role in Chelsea's success last season and said any differences between them are "the past."

On Thursday, Chelsea announced that they had agreed a deal with Atletico Madrid -- a season-long loan with a commitment to buy for £58 million next summer -- for Costa to return to his former club.

The striker told journalists at Sao Paulo airport that he harboured "no grudge" towards anyone at Chelsea despite claiming in an interview earlier this summer that the club had treated him "like a criminal."

And speaking at a news conference on Friday, Conte said: "We want to thank him for what he did with this club. We wish him all the best for the future.

"Don't forget we won together last season. I repeat: for sure we want to thank him for his effort, not only last season but in the period that he played for Chelsea."

Asked whether the Spain international had tarnished his Chelsea legacy by going to his native Brazil rather than returning to the club this season, Conte said: "I'm not interested to talk about the past. It's not important. For every player, the past stays there."

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Meanwhile, Tiemoue Bakayoko is fit to play in Chelsea's game at Stoke on Saturday despite being involved in a minor car accident after training on Thursday, while Eden Hazard is also available.

Conte said: "All the players are available apart from [Danny] Drinkwater," Conte added. "He's continuing to work on his recovery [from a calf problem].

He said he was pleased Hazard had returned in the midweek League Cup win over Nottingham Forest, adding that the Belgium international "played with good intensity" and his injury "has been overcome."

Conte said he had witnessed "a really good atmosphere" in the Chelsea dressing room after a much-changed side beat Forest 5-1, with youngsters Kenedy and Charly Musonda impressive.

"Don't forget we are working with Charly and Kenedy from last season," he added. "I was pleased to see this type of performance from them.

"They have to continue in this way. But in the last game I felt a really good atmosphere in the changing room. A good link between young players and old players."

Kurt Zouma is on loan from Chelsea at Stoke, but the defender is ineligible to face his parent club.

"In this specific case, I think the best way for him is to send him on loan and to play regularly," Conte said. "He renewed his contract for many years. This showed we trust him.

"He's playing very well. It's a pleasure for me to see him play regularly. I'm pleased and I hope to see him tomorrow and to say hello to him."



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