Diego Costa is one of those players whom rival fans can’t help but hate.
A fiery figure who uses every unsavoury trick in the book to unsettle opponents, Costa nonetheless cuts an affable figure in his bombshell interview with The Daily Mail.
The Spaniard was pivotal to Chelsea’s most recent Premier League triumphs in 2015 and earlier this year, scoring twenty goals in each campaign. Since June however, Costa has been frozen out of the club in an effort spearheaded by manager Antonio Conte.
Speaking to SportsMail’s Adam Crafton, the 28-year-old revealed that he still has the very text from Conte informing him that he is surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.
“In January, things happened with the coach”, he said, addressing reports at the time linking him with a move to China.
“I was on the brink of renewing my contract and they put the brakes on it. I suspect the manager was behind it. He asked for that to happen. I have seen the sort of person he is. He has his own opinion and that will not change.
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.”
As seen somewhat in the above quote, despite the desperate situation that he finds himself in – the club are refusing to both sell him and play him – Costa speaks highly of those at Chelsea, including his replacement.
“Alvaro Morata is a great player. Actually with the way this crazy transfer market is, I think they got a good price for a young and talented forward. He will triumph at Chelsea, but there are ways of going about it.”
This is of course in reference to the soon-to-be infamous text from Conte.
“You don’t do it by text message. You should be honest and direct to someone’s face.
‘I was with the Spain national team, alone in my room, when it came through. It was a shock to get it like that. I was showing it to my team-mates and they could not believe how he had done it.
‘I was angry at the time. Now I am more calm.”
The striker’s dream is to return to Atletico Madrid, the club he left for Chelsea in 2014.
Even if his ideal move comes to pass, he will deeply miss the camaraderie he has with the likes of David Luiz and Willian, whom he says “send messages saying “I miss you” and that they love me.”
In order to force a departure from London, Costa is considering legal action.
“They want me to be there training with the reserves. I wouldn’t be allowed access to the first-team dressing room and I would have no contact at all 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. They gave me a week extra off but since then it’s fines all the way. They want me training with the reserves. I am not going to do that.
I am not a criminal and I am not in the wrong here.”
Accusations of misdirection to the press regarding his status and excessive fines that could manifest in him going unpaid for the year are also discussed in what is a remarkable report from the English outlet.