Diego Costa has now gone five games without scoring a goal, and has only four goals since the calendar turned over to 2017. While Antonio Conte has been quick to praise his main striker’s other contributions (“he’s totally involved in the team”) the lack of goals has made Costa’s general behaviours, both past and present, less palatable to take.
That said, in a recent interview with the Chelsea website, Costa has nothing but happy and nice words about the club — not that one should expect anything but happy and nice words in an interview with an official club source — and talks about his enjoyment in playing for Conte and alongside players like Hazard and Kanté.
“Playing with [Hazard] is something beautiful. [...] We get on really well while playing and I hope we stay together like this for a very long time.”
“I always enjoy playing, always try to give the best of me. Whatever the formation I always try to play well and score in order to help the team. [...] I want to play. Playing right now is great. We are playing to win a championship. During the previous season I was out a lot of the time, either because of a suspension or an injury or for another reason. So this year I really want to play the remaining matches and enjoy myself here in Chelsea.”
-Diego Costa; source: Chelsea FC
Similar positive sentiments are echoed in another recent interview, this one with France’s SFR Sport. However, Costa also reveals that even after three years in the English capital, he’s not completely happy with life itself in London.
“I have another two years on my contract. I am always very honest with those close to me. I tell them that I am very happy at Chelsea.”
“The club gives me a lot, the fans, the team-mates. I am in a team that is winning and that motivates me even more. Last season was not the best, not just for me but for other players and for Chelsea. This year I hope will be different, that we win titles. If you are in a team that is winning, you always want to stay for the allotted amount of time.”
“I am happy at Chelsea, I am not necessarily saying that I am happy with my life in London, but that is something completely different. It has nothing to do with it.”
Costa’s non-happiness with life (and referees and the media) in England has been brought up as the reason for his impending departure for the last two seasons. So far, he’s not gone anywhere, though he did reveal that he really wanted to return to Atlético Madrid last summer, only for Atléti to sign Kevin Gameiro instead, forcing Costa to tuck tail and slink back to apologize to Conte to get back into the new coach’s good graces. That happy relationship has been one of the keys to Chelsea’s resurrection this season, but it provides no guarantees beyond these remaining 8-9 games.
If Costa does leave — this is where we bring up the rumors from China — Chelsea will no doubt make a strong move for Romelu Lukaku or somebody of his calibre. But for now, Costa’s commitment seems good enough, even if the goals are not flowing. Antonio Conte seems happy enough as well, continuing to give Costa all the minutes at center forward.