- Antonio Conte has insisted he has no problems with the departing Diego Costa
- The Chelsea boss was embroiled in a bitter fued with Costa during the summer
- The Spain striker has now completed his £57.5million return to Atletico Madrid
- Conte, however, promised a peaceful break and thanked Costa for last season
- He also called on Eden Hazard to raise his European displays ahead of Atletico tie
- Chelsea face the Spanish giants in a Champions League clash on Wednesday
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte promised a peaceful break from the past if he comes face-to-face with Diego Costa and then challenged Eden Hazard to raise his European performances and inscribe his team’s name into the continent’s history books.
Chelsea and Atletico Madrid were on the brink of finalising Diego Costa’s £57.5m transfer but for the first time since the FA Cup final in May, Costa and Conte are expected to be in the same city and the same stadium as the two teams meet in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The two men were embroiled in a bitter feud during the summer after Costa alleged in an interview with Sportsmail that Conte had ended his Chelsea career by text message and then accused the club of treating him ‘like a criminal.’
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte insists he has ‘no problem’ with departing striker Diego Costa
Costa is on the verge of completing a £57.5million return to Spanish outfit Atletico Madrid
Asked if he would shake the hand of his old forward, Conte insisted he has no qualms. ‘Yes,’ Conte said. ‘I have no problem with Diego Costa. I said that we wish him the best for the future. We want to thank him for the last season. But, I repeat, I have no problem with him.’
Conte’s side face an acid test of their progress against Diego Simeone’s combative team, who have reached the Champions League final twice in the past four seasons.
Spanish sides have won 11 of the last 18 Champions League and Europa League titles, while English clubs have lifted only three of those.
Chelsea spent last season out of the Champions League and Conte accepts Wednesday’s fixture offers a barometer of their progress.
‘Away from home against one of the best teams in the Champions League,’ Conte smiled. ‘It’s the right moment also to understand where we are.’
The pair were embroiled in a bitter feud during the summer after Costa alleged Conte had ended his Chelsea career by text message and told him to stay away from their preparations
Costa enjoyed a successful time at Chelsea and Conte thanked him for last season
In particular, he presented a challenge to playmaker Hazard, who has only scored five goals in 31 Champions League appearances for Chelsea. Now Conte wants Hazard to lead the way as Chelsea strive to disrupt the Spanish superiority.
‘We have to try to change the history. In the last few years, the history has been this: that Spanish teams are dominating in Europe.’
‘He was very big for us to win the league last season. He showed in every game big talent to be a top player. This competition brings you to another level. He has every possibility to do this. It is the right moment.’
Conte also called on Eden Hazard to raise his European performances ahead of Atletico tie