Antonio Conte’s first season in charge of Chelsea was characterized by plenty of good vibes, in all footballing and non-footballing aspects, from the results on the pitch, to the harmony in the dressing room (despite the Costa shenanigans), to the relationship with the media and beyond. But that honeymoon is well and truly over and the gloves have been off since the summer. Even the FA have started butting in once again, levying a fine on the Chelsea head coach for doing not much more than what others routinely get away with.
The latest issue that Conte’s been getting needled with is David Luiz’s (somewhat?) Costa-esque situation, with rumors of palpable discord between the two of them floating relentlessly about, followed by an (in-)conveniently timed knee injury that’s kept David Luiz from even the substitutes bench. The last time he played was two weeks ago, away at Qarabag; since then, the only place where he’s been a constant fixture have been the rumors linking with an exit, possibly to Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, Conte’s maintained that there is no issue, David Luiz has maintained radio silence, and the media has maintained their own narrative as they’re wont to do. And Conte’s apparently done fighting it.
“David is out. This problem with his knee, trying to solve this situation. He’s out.
“Why do you ask this question [about if there is a breakdown in the relationship]? Two weeks ago, then it was the past, then he played against Qarabag. If you don’t trust what I tell it’s your problem not my problem.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Evening Standard
Last season, press conferences turned into rather repetitive affairs of Chelsea needing to work hard and pay great attention. Conte was allowed to skate by (and was taken at face value) on several issues. Alas, that wonderful ennui is long gone. Now we’re back to the manufactured soap opera to help sell the papers and the clicks.
What that means for David Luiz’s future? Who knows. Depends on whom you believe, which of course may or may not reflect that actual reality. One does wonder what is the point of this whole charade sometimes.
Luis: Animal Diego Costa was Chelsea’s best player
Filipe Luis believes “animal” Diego Costa was Chelsea’s best player during his time at Stamford Bridge, and admitted the striker’s absence from Atletico Madrid’s Champions League tie with Antonio Conte’s side on Tuesday will be a blow to the Spanish side.
Costa helped Atletico win the Spanish top-flight title in 2014 before moving to Chelsea where he went on to secure two Premier League trophies and the League Cup title.
His time in west London ended on a negative note, however, after he fell out with coach Antonio Conte before he sealed a move back to Atletico Madrid this summer.
The striker cannot play for Los Rojiblancos until January, though, due to Atletico’s transfer ban.
And Luis admitted not having Costa available for the club’s crunch Group C Champions League clash with Chelsea on Tuesday – a game the Spanish side must win to have any hope of staying in the competition – is a hammer blow to Atletico.
“Diego is a huge player,” former Chelsea left-back Luis told reporters at Stamford Bridge. “Best player for me [at Chelsea] is him because he scores a lot of goals and important goals.
“I think he came back to Atletico because Chelsea couldn’t keep him because it’s his desire. He really wanted to come back to Atletico.
“He was happy here. He did his job really well. His most important desire was to come back.
“It is frustrating seeing him playing like an animal, but he can’t play. It’s just a month until he can play with us. He’ll help us a lot. I don’t have any doubts about it.
“He knows the club, he knows the way we play. He has already adapted. I know it was difficult times for him and for Chelsea. Now everybody’s happy. We want to see him play and happy again.”
A win for Chelsea over Atletico on Tuesday will condemn the Spanish side to the Europa League, but Conte would not directly answer whether seeing Costa playing in the competition this season would give him any joy.
He said: “Costa? Europa League? I think we must have great respect for Atletico Madrid and all the team not only for one, two or three players.
“If the whole team after tomorrow has to play Europa League it can happen and we must have great respect for the whole team and first of all for this coach.”