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Diego Costa’s Conte-shaped Chelsea wound has not healed yet

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Costa accepts no responsibility

Middlesbrough v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

They say time heals all wounds. Diego Costa probably says that, too. But the wounds from how his time ended at Chelsea have yet to heal. He’s certainly not ready to accept any responsibility for it.

“It was a very bad moment but it wasn’t my fault. People said things, but time puts everything in its place. Look where the coach is, look at Conte.”

Conte’s infamous text message is most remembered. It certainly did not help the situation. But Costa’s time at Chelsea was up well before then, going all the way back to January at least, when the club may or may not have tried to engineer a move to China for him (which he firmly rejected). It was the culmination of years of exit rumors for Diego, who never quite seemed to settle in London, despite all the goals (59 in 120) and trophies (two Premier League titles, one League Cup)

Costa, speaking to Marca on the eve of a Madrid Derby, glosses over the details, but seems to hint that the actual problems ran deeper than just Conte’s stubborn nature. The whole culture of Chelsea was different than the one he was used to, the one fostered by Diego Simeone at Atlético.

“I was wrong going to Chelsea because of their way of dealing with things. Cholo is a direct coach, and when he doesn’t love you, it’s clear and he facilitates it. At Chelsea it was the opposite.

”I had the option of returning to Atleti and when Chelsea told me to go back to training with the B team... I was clear that I was going back to Atletico, even though there were other offers. If not, I would’ve stayed in Brazil with my family. I had to live my whole life with my family. I have other values that no money can buy.”

Costa’s referring to his hold-out over the summer once it became clear that the relationship with the head coach and the club had broken beyond repair. That Chelsea managed to extricate around £50m from cash-strapped Atlético for a wantaway striker is bordering on a minor miracle.

Still, despite all the drama, all the (negative) attention from referees and the media (even more negative), Costa doesn’t regret his time in the Premier League.

“I don’t regret that experience as the Premier League is impressive. I wanted to play. Chelsea are also a big club. At that time, I needed to change. I’d done things very well and wanted to try something different. I was very happy at the club and with the fans, they had a great affection for me.”

Costa may think his life has turned out better than Conte’s since the separation, but he’s mired in a Morata-esque goal drought in La Liga, having not scored since February — a run of 15 games and over 1100 minutes. While he’s notched a few goals in European competitions since, including the winner over Arsenal in the Europa League semifinals last May as well as a couple against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup back in August, questions are being asked about his goalscoring form in the league.

“I need a goal. Of course it bothers me not to score. But sometimes I need passes. They’re not coming, but it’s not my colleagues’ fault.”

Not everything is sunshine and unicorns in Spain either.

A week shy of his 30th birthday, Costa claims he’s mellowing out a bit, though he doesn’t want to lose his “essence”. He recently became a father and he’s grown to become one of the veteran leaders of the team.

They’ve not had the greatest start to the season with just three wins in their first six games, but are only two points behind the league leaders as both Real Madrid and Barcelona lost recently. Their Champions League campaign started much better — Costa even scored in the 2-1 win at Monaco — and they’re of course targeting the Big Ears trophy.

“Everything works for us, what happened last year too. We have to play the games as if it were a final. Although we have great players, we must continue with the humility of always.”

-Diego Costa; source: Marca

Costa will eventually find the back of the net in La Liga once again. And perhaps, he will eventually let time heal the old Chelsea wounds, too.