Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte talked to the media for the first time in almost two months, sitting down for a pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s friendly against Arsenal in Beijing. Unfortunately, it was not televised like many are on Chelsea TV, but via reports on social media, we can gather that the big topic of discussion was (unsurprisingly) the situation around Diego Costa and Álvaro Morata.
According to Conte, the situation was made clear to Costa and his representatives in January already but he doesn’t really want to waste time talking about players who aren’t staying with Chelsea. How cold? Ice cold.
Conte has confirmed decision to let Costa leave #cfc was made in January...more to come soon— Simon Johnson (@sjstandardsport) July 21, 2017
Antonio Conte: "I don’t like to talk about players that don’t stay. Generally the Costa situation for him was clear for him and his agent." pic.twitter.com/M0NFnjITVa— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) July 21, 2017
This does seemingly confirm that Costa was not the one agitating for a move to China (i.e. Chelsea were soliciting bids instead) — if Costa had been, this would have not turned into such a farcical situation with texts and confusion and such.
So, Conte and Chelsea had been planning for a Costa-less future since at least January then, and those plans were resolved in a grand and exciting manner this week with the arrival (soon to be confirmed) of Álvaro Morata. Morata had long been rumored to be Conte’s preferred choice, and the coach confirmed that in the presser as well. Of course, he would probably never say anything other than that in this situation, but that’s truth in football for you.
Antonio Conte: "Morata for sure is our 1st choice. He's a good player, the right prospect for Chelsea & he hopes to show his value with us.” pic.twitter.com/j5n6DvEJuy— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) July 21, 2017
In any case, Costa OUT and Morata IN and they all lived happily ever after.
“I think for sure this is a good signing for us, he is a young player but has a lot of experience, he went to Juventus and Real Madrid. He has a lot of experience and I think this is a good sign for us.”
"We have added a fantastic striker, even at a young age he has won a lot already and we are looking forward to welcoming him to the squad."
“For sure this transfer market is a crazy market, but it is not only for this season but for the future seasons. Now there is crazy money, if you want to buy a normal player you need to spend 40-50 million Euro. It is the same. Lukaku cost a lot of money, the same with Lacazette. For a right back you spend 50-60m Euro.”
"It is very important the choice. Morata for sure is our first choice. He is a good player, the right prospect for Chelsea and hopes to show his value with us."
-Antonio Conte; source: Star