Former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has opened up on the infamous Diego Costa transfer saga that saw the striker leave Stamford Bridge to seal a return to Atletico Madrid in September 2017, admitting that he “wanted to leave many times.”
Having played key roles in helping Chelsea win the Premier League title in both 2014/15 and 2016/17, as well as helping the Blues lift the Carabao Cup in 2014/15, Costa was desperate to move on throughout the 2016/17 season, even though he scored 22 goals in all competitions.
Throughout that campaign, as Chelsea were cruising their way to the title, Costa wanted to pursue either a move to China or a return to Atletico.
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In the end, having been told he was not part of Conte’s plans ahead of the 2017/18 season, the Spain striker sealed a transfer to Atletico in September 2017, but the deal would not officially be concluded until the following January.
Costa, of course, went about his demands of leaving the club in a controversial manner, sending a text message to Conte outlining his desire to leave the west London club.
“First of all, I am a person that doesn’t want to speak badly about a situation with a player from a club that I trained,” Conte told The Telegraph.
“It’s right always to keep good memories and I prefer to keep good memories also about Diego Costa because we won together a league title in an incredible season.
“But, for sure, the truth, we know the truth. The player, his agent, the club and I. We know how many times he asked to go away to Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, during the season to go to China, and at the end of the season to join, again, Atletico Madrid.
“This is the truth and, honestly, in my career I want to have players who are concentrated on my team and not to consider my team a…