CESC FABREGAS says Diego Costa deserves to still be playing at Chelsea.
The controversial star striker is set to complete his exit from Stamford Bridge in January.
A £57m deal has now been reached between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid to see Costa return to Spain.
And that has come after a summer saga which saw him go AWOL in Brazil.
Antonio Conte’s message to Costa that he was no longer in his plans saw their relationship crumble.
Chelsea midfielder Fabregas was disappointed in how the matter panned out after Costa’s huge success in west London.
“It’s a shame for him more than anyone,” Fabregas told Spanish newspaper MARCA.
“Diego knew that by signing for Atletico he could not play for a few months.
“It has been a difficult situation for him, for Chelsea. It has been wrong.
“He deserves to be in the country.”
On whether he wanted Costa to stay, Fabregas added: “Clearly. Diego will always [be a friend] and never a rival.
“In recent years, like a pure No.9, there has been no one better than him.
“I understood him myself perfectly. He knew my football, he read my passes and, most importantly, he got them.
“He gives a lot to the dressing room. He is not only the Diego that is seen on the field. He is a character that greatly encourages the group.”
Chelsea travel to Atletico on Wednesday for their Champions League showdown.
Costa, though, will have to watch from the stands, with his £70m summer replacement Alvaro Morata likely to start for the Blues.
Cesc Fabregas: Diego Costa situation at Chelsea was wrong, he deserves to be here
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has revealed that he never considered leaving as an option last season even after finding himself relegated to the bench under Antonio Conte.
The Spanish playmaker had been a key figure in Jose Mourinho’s title-winning team in 2015 and initially struggled to secure minutes under the Italian, who preferred to line up with Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante in the middle of his team.
However, the former Arsenal and Barcelona creator was able to prove himself with his impact off the bench and as source of goals and assists when rotated into the starting line-up, and has now worked his way back into his manager’s plans.
“I’m not going to deny it, it was a difficult season,” Fabregas told Marca. “I came from playing everything with [Jose] Mourinho and [Guus] Hiddink and then suddenly I was not counted on all of the time.”
The Spaniard made 33 starts in the Premier League in each of his first two seasons with the Blues. In his first campaign under Conte he was sent on from the bench 16 times and started only 13 games, but scored five goals and set up another 12.
“Not everyone knows what I went through during those months and there were people who went as far as to say that it was no longer worth it,” he added. “Only my family knows what I have been through.”
Yet Fabregas dismissed the idea of leaving Stamford Bridge in search of more minutes, and said he wanted to remain at the club to win back his place by showing his quality with the ball.
“I know what I can give the team and if I can play or not so I decided to stay and fight. With Antonio there is no option other than to compete and give 100 percent in every training session and each match.”