Sunday 18 February 2018

Diego Costa '100 per cent' staying at Chelsea to be part of Antonio Conte revolution

Diego Costa
Diego Costa

Matt Law

Diego Costa has handed Antonio Conte a significant boost by agreeing to be part of his Chelsea revolution in which the Italian’s dream is to partner the striker with Alvaro Morata.

Despite completing the £33million signing of Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi at the weekend, Conte ideally wants to add Morata to his squad and keep Costa.

He is also interested in Graziano Pelle in case Chelsea cannot agree a fee with Real Madrid for Morata, who is valued at around £50million, but Conte’s clear intention is to start next season with two out-and-out strikers.

Despite the fact Atletico Madrid have made no secret of their desire to re-sign Costa, the 27-year-old has told Chelsea team-mates over the past fortnight that he will start next season at Stamford Bridge.

Costa has struggled to settle in England and became frustrated with life at Chelsea last season after being left out of the side by former manager Jose Mourinho and getting into more disciplinary problems.

But Costa’s form improved dramatically under interim manager Guus Hiddink and he is said to have been energised by the arrival of new head coach Conte and having the summer off after being left out of Spain’s Euro 2016 squad.

Other than wanting to bring in another new striker, Conte is also hoping to secure the signature of midfielder N’Golo Kante from Leicester and will also step up his attempts to agree a deal for a new central defender with Kalidou Koulibaly the most likely to arrive from Napoli.

Despite the fact he has set-up with a back three with Italy, Conte will work towards employing a 4-2-4 formation when he officially takes up his Chelsea post next week.

Switching to a back three would have required a major defensive overhaul, while Conte feels that a 4-2-4 will better suit the personnel he already has and those he hopes to bring in.

Conte wants to partner Kante with Cec Fabregas in his midfield two and then have Eden Hazard and Willian either side of his front two – whether that be Costa and Morata or Costa and Batshuayi, with Pelle on the bench.

Should Chelsea succeed in their move for Morata, who the Blues have already held talks over, then 22-year-old Batshuayi will be given time to get used to English football as a substitute and playing in the cups.

Speaking about his move to Stamford Bridge, Batshuayi said: “I’m very young and still have progress to make, but I’m a very technical player and like to use both feet.

“It’s a real chance for me and I’m looking forward to starting with a new club and new coach. It’s a great opportunity. It feels fantastic to be here, it’s a childhood dream for me.”

Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois both helped Batshuayi make his decision to join Chelsea while on international duty with Belgium at the Euros.

“They told me I was joining a magnificent club with a magnificent stadium and magnificent fans,” said Batshuayi. “Myself and Eden get on very well both on and off the field.”

How Conte wants Chelsea to line-up (4-2-4):

Courtois; Ivanovic, Koulibaly, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Kante; Willian, Costa, Morata /Batshuayi, Hazard

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