Chelsea coach Antonio Conte will always remember Diego Costa in a “positive way”, despite their fractious relationship culminating in the Spain striker re-joining Atletico Madrid.
Costa was presented as an Atletico player on Sunday after being frozen out at Stamford Bridge.
The 29-year-old played a key role as Chelsea won the Premier League title in Conte’s first season at the club but was subsequently told he was surplus to requirements by the Italian.
After training alone in his native Brazil, Costa finally got his wish of a return to Atletico and will now be tasked with ensuring Diego Simeone’s men secure a top-four finish in La Liga.
Despite their relationship ending in acrimony, Conte has refused to criticise the fiery centre-forward, instead praising him for the way they “fought together”.
“It’s not right to talk about players who are not in my team and squad,” Conte told Sky Sports. “But I thank him for his commitment and behaviour during the season.
“We won together, so I will always remember him in a positive way. We fought together and won together.”
Without the services of Costa, Chelsea look set to lose their Premier League crown to Manchester City and Conte says they already need to start thinking about being ready to fight them next season.
“We have to try to fight them,” Conte added. “We have to find the right way to fight them.
“If it’s not possible this season, we must be ready to fight them next season. This must be our target.”