Chelsea manager Antonio Conte hopes that Diego Costa’s goalscoring return will end the speculation around the forward’s future at the club.
The Spanish international has been heavily linked with a move to the Chinese Super League during the transfer window, while reports of a bust-up with Conte and his staff has fueled further talk of an impending exit.
However, it seems the uncertainty around his future has had little impact on Costa, who returned to the Chelsea starting 11 last night with bang.
The 28-year-old gave his side the lead on the brink of half-time, scoring his 52nd goal on his 100th appearance for the Blues. He celebrated with a gesture, responding to all the noise that has surrounded him after he missed Chelsea’s win at Leicester.
Antonio Conte hopes that the goal will now end the talk surrounding Costa, who still has two years remaining on his contract.
“I hope with this game to finish the speculation about him, about Chelsea, about me and him. We showed we are a team with great unity.”
And when the Italian boss was quizzed on whether his forward would sign a new deal to prove his commitment, he said: “why not?”
The Blues pulled further away at the top of the Premier League after the chasing Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham and Manchester City all dropped points at the weekend, leaving Conte in a jubilant mood.
We had the pressure to win and to exploit this weekend,” Conte added.
“A lot of opponents dropped points this weekend and for sure I’m pleased.
“Now we have (a lead of) eight points and there are 16 games to play.
“I think me, my players, we have good experience to understand that this league it’ll be very tough until the end.
“To stay now in that position is fantastic for us. At the start of the season not one person thought this.”