Diego Costa missed Chelsea's pre-season match against Liverpool, and, without any official word from the club as to the reason why, coupled with his open-for-interpretation Instagram post afterward, it had led to some concern whether the constant rumors about his return to Spain were suddenly coming true, after all.
While those rumors are back again — here's the Daily Mail claiming that Atlético are coming in hot with £40m, despite the recent hands-off warnings — we finally know why Costa missed the game on Wednesday.
Chelsea's first choice striker has suffered from a minor back problem for the past few days and has not been able to train fully with the squad for the whole of the sessions.
-source: Evening Standard
This confirms a few stray reports on social media from earlier this week. It's still not a great situation however, as Costa's absence in pre-season could negatively effect that start of the season as well.
A conveniently timed injury just as transfer rumors start up again will certainly get the conspiracy theories going. More tangibly, it will affect Costa's preparation for the season ahead, as the head coach explained.
"It's important to see the players doing the training session. If I don't see a player doing the training session I can't put them in the game. These are my rules and it's important to understand this. My concept is very clear. I want to see my players doing the work in the training session."
"If someone is injured or there is some problem and I don't see the player in the training session it is impossible to think of putting him in the starting 11 or on the bench."
"In the last few days he had a pain in the back and for this reason he didn't train and didn't play. When Costa trained with us I saw always the right attitude but in these days he didn't train with us."
-Antonio Conte; source: Evening Standard
On the plus side, at least it's not another hamstring injury.