'I'm not lying' - Antonio Conte offers alternative explanation for Diego Costa's absence
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has insisted he is ‘not lying’ after claiming striker Diego Costa missed Saturday’s game at Leicester with a back injury, despite widespread reports of a huge bust-up between the Blues boss and his star striker.
Costa has been strongly linked with an £80m move to Chinese football in a week when he has reportedly been involved in a big fall-out with Conte and his coaching staff, with his absence from the Blues' 3-0 win at Leicester apparently confirming a problem has arisen with the Spain striker.
Yet Conte was adamant that he missed the game due to injury, before hinting there may be more to this story that he was willing to discuss in public.
“Diego stopped his training on Tuesday because he felt a pain in his back and from that moment he didn't train,” stated Conte, as he side restored their seven-point lead at the top of the table.
“Before the game I told the truth and now I repeat the truth. I am not lying. Diego felt a pain in his back on Tuesday and from that moment, he didn’t train. This is the truth.
“In this situation you can listen to a lot of things. In my experience as a coach if there are the problems you solve them in the changing room not the press conference.”
Conte was then asked whether Costa has refused to play and he offered up this response: “I don’t know about this,” he continued. “The truth is what I told you and now we will see in the next week.”
When asked about the rumours of a big money offer from China for Costa, he insisted Chelsea knew nothing about a possible bid. “I don't know anything about the reports of Costa to China. The club does not talk to me about this,” he stressed, even though sources have suggested that the Blues are braced for an £80m offer for their star man.
This story is set to dominate the final days of the January transfer window, with Costa’s availability for Chelsea’s upcoming matches set to reveal the depth of his fall-out with the club.