Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has laughed off Diego Costa’s suggestion that he has been treated like “a criminal” and says the striker is in “the past”.
The 28-year-old Brazil-born Spain international signed for £32million from Atletico Madrid in July 2014, agreeing a five-year contract, and wishes to return to the Spanish capital.
Speaking from his native Lagarto earlier this week, Costa criticised Chelsea and Conte, who responded with humour on Friday.
“It’s great. I prefer to laugh,” Conte said.
“I can tell you that everyone who was in Chelsea knows very well what happened last season with Diego. It’s funny, this interview.”
Costa on Friday pleaded with Chelsea to lower their asking price to allow him to return to Atletico.
Costa claims he was told he was not wanted by a text message sent by Conte during the off-season.
But the Blues insist it was decided in January, with the striker and his agent, Jorge Mendes, that Costa could leave this summer.
Costa still has two years remaining on his contract. As a consequence, he has been ordered by Chelsea to return to London, get himself match fit and make himself available for selection.
That stance is seemingly at odds with Conte’s, but Chelsea want to monitor their player ahead of a possible transfer.
Conte was asked if he would select Costa if he was fit to play.
“No. I’m not interested to continue this issue. I repeat: for me, it is the past,” Conte added.
A Chelsea spokesman added: “Antonio’s not wanting to comment further on this subject and neither are the club. Our position is clear.”
Asked how the situation might be resolved, the Chelsea spokesman added: “I don’t think that’s something we’ll get into publicly. As a Chelsea player we’ve said he should return to Chelsea and that’s where we’ll leave it.”