Diego Costa, chilling like a villain back in his hometown while his lawyer’s on the warpath and the rest of the world (tries) to move on, has given an exclusive interview to tell his side of the summer that’s been to the Daily Mail’s Adam Crafton.
There’s at least two sides to every story, so let’s see what Costa’s selling.
I'm sure Costa will come out with some great quotes tonight but anything he says has to be taken with a pinch of salt #cfc— Simon Johnson (@sjstandardsport) August 13, 2017
You see, Diego Costa is the victim here. Cruelly axed by Conte via text, maligned by the club, discarded as useless waste, discriminated against, unfairly treated, and now even fined weekly. At least that’s the way he sees it, or wants you to see it. A reward for three years of faithful service is to be persona non grata, shamed into either training with the reserves and exiled into irrelevancy.
“You know that the manager doesn’t want me. I am waiting for Chelsea to set me free. I didn’t want to leave. I was happy. When the manager does not want you, you have to go.”
-Diego Costa; source: Mail
What Costa no doubt meant to say was, I didn’t want to leave ... at that very moment unlike the summer prior to that or the summer prior to that. For Costa to complain about loyalty, and to claim that he was happy when he had been pushing for a move back to Atlético since after his first season, and has admitted to not liking the weather and other things about his life in London is a bit much already. And we’re only getting started.
"The relationship with Conte did not begin well because on arrival I told him that I wanted to go to Atletico. I did everything possible to return to Atletico. I won't fight like that to return again. When Atletico had to wait for me they didn't. There was still a month of the market to go. When Atletico did not wait I went with the tail between the legs to speak with Conte."
Here he is, from April, also talking about “angling” for a move back to Atléti last summer in an interview with Thierry Henry for Sky Sports.
Costa, who’s apparently everyone’s favorite mate (and the ring-leader of the one-time Brazilian “clique”) except the head coach’s — gee, I wonder why — seems most upset by what he perceives is unfair, unprofessional treatment.
“What is happening now with Chelsea is sad. The text message - I understand it when a coach wants a different player [but] 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. I have not deleted the message. If people accuse me of lying, I can show them. It was clear, saying that he didn’t count on me and wishing me the best for the future. Full stop.”
While he may be right about the professionalism part — then again, who revealed a private text/conversation to the media at large? — he’s telling a very different story than Chelsea. Earlier this summer, Conte and Chelsea claimed that the decision to let Costa go was communicated to him and his agent way back in January. Costa himself reveals that something changed in January which stopped any contract extension talks. He suspects that it’s all Conte’s doing, though that doesn’t mesh with the deluge of transfer rumors from China that very same month, which point to either the club trying to collect a hefty fee before that honeypot was closed off with new regulations, or Costa himself looking for a big payday. The former explanation is likely to be the truth, supported also by Chelsea holding out for a good price this summer. If Conte were actually in charge (other than just essentially a consultant in these matters), surely Costa would’ve simply been cut or sold for peanuts by now.
So then Costa goes on to insult Conte personally (“very distant” and “lacks charisma”, which ... what?), claiming he respects him as a coach but not “as a person”. Safe to say, that relationship will not be mended. Not now, and probably not ever.
So what’s next for Costa? It remains Atlético or bust. He confirms he’s rejected other offers, from China and elsewhere (AC Milan?). He claims he’s happy sit out even up to a year in Brazil, which seems like the worst career decision ever. (Somebody should also tell him that he’s got two years left on his Chelsea contract.) Meanwhile, Chelsea have begun to fine him after the first week of extended vacation was granted and he then failed to turn up for training with the reserves.
“Why won’t they let me go if they don’t want me? I have to do what I have to do. I have to think of myself. I’ve been a good boy here and tried to do the right thing.”
“My desire is to go to Atletico. I’ve spoken to Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia. I said, “If the manager doesn’t want me, I want to go to Atletico Madrid”. I have rejected other offers. They want to sell me to China or other teams. The language is better for me in Spain. If I’m off, I’m going to the club I want to go to — not the club that’s paying the most. Diego Simeone wants me. It is very clear. I have always had a bond with him. The fans and people love me there. They respect me.”
“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. So, if they need to fine me, let them fine me. I take the hit every week but I’m not driven by money. The important thing is to be happy with how I live. I’m here with my parents and people who respect me.”
“I am open to being a year in Brazil without playing, even if Chelsea fine me for a year and don’t pay me. I’ll come back stronger. If I was in the wrong, I’d go back now and do as they say. At the start of summer, they gave me an extra week of holiday. Then a week later they called to see where I was but by then the team was in Asia on tour, so I could go back and not have any contact with the boys.”
“That seems a very bad and ugly life. It doesn’t respect what I have done for the club. I am here with people who love me. I want the fans to know I still care deeply about them but I’m not going back to be separated like that.”
“I want the deal with Atletico resolved this month. My idea would be to go to Madrid, train there, get in the best physical shape and be ready to fire ahead of the World Cup.”
-Diego Costa; source: Mail
Diego Costa, victim, “good boy”. The same Diego Costa who was pushing for a move back to Atlético in 2015, like former teammate Filipe Luis. The same Diego Costa who had to tuck tail and apologize for making the worst first impression with Conte last summer. The same Diego Costa who admits he did get into a training ground row with the coaching staff and did “not behave the best way”, after which Conte dropped him for a game as punishment (but kept things hidden from the media and public with a back injury story).
And he wonders why Conte would’ve wanted or pushed for or sanctioned an end to his relationship with Chelsea? Sorry, Diego, if there are any victims here, you’re not it.