Chelsea favourite Diego Costa slams ex-boss Antonio Conte after Stamford Bridge return

Wolves striker Diego Costa applauds the fans after being substituted in the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolves on 8 October, 2022 at Stamford Bridge, London, United Kingdom
(Image credit: Jack Thomas – Wolves via Getty Images)

Chelsea fan favourite Diego Costa has dredged up his dispute with former Blues boss Antonio Conte – although he refused to refer to him by name.

Costa faced Chelsea on Saturday for the first time since his acrimonious 2017 exit, making his first start for new club Wolves in a 3-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge. And after being substituted just before the hour-mark, he received a standing ovation from the home crowd – who chanted his name as he made his way back to the bench.

The ex-Spain international top-scored for the Blues in their 2016/17 Premier League title-winning campaign – but Conte subsequently informed him that he was surplus to requirements in West London, telling the striker by text that "you are not in my plan".

Striker Diego Costa celebrates after scoring for Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea on 27 May, 2017 at Wembley Stadium, London, United Kingdom

Costa scored 59 goals in 120 appearances for Chelsea (Image credit: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Speaking after Saturday's game, Costa appeared in no mood to make peace with Conte. The 34-year-old – who had been without a club since January, when he left Brazilian outfit Atletico Mineiro – said:

"I've never had a problem with the fans. My problem was not with the crowd; it was with that coach [Conte]. I left on bad terms with that manager; I left a [Premier League] champion for the second time and he didn't count on me.

"[There] was nothing I could do; I had to leave. Today showed that I did not leave on bad terms with the fans. It's very special; it's the feeling that in the time that you spent here, you did good work and left good memories. Chelsea fans always treated me very well. I was always surprised by the way they treated me; it's satisfying."

Antonio Conte and Diego Costa, Chelsea

Happier times: Conte and Costa at Chelsea before things turned sour (Image credit: Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Following Conte's bombshell, Costa angled for a return to previous club Atletico Madrid  – and accused Chelsea of treating him like "a criminal" by holding out for what he felt was an unattainable transfer fee. He was subsequently made to train away from the first team and was left out of the Blues' 2017/18 Champions League squad.

Chelsea eventually agreed a deal to sell Costa back to Atletico that September, although he didn't kick a ball until January due to Atleti being under a transfer embargo.

Fans of player-manager beef might want to circle 4 March, 2023 on their calendars: that's when Wolves are scheduled to play Conte's Tottenham...

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Tom Hancock started freelancing for FourFourTwo in April 2019 and has also written for The Analyst and When Saturday Comes, among others. He supports Wycombe Wanderers and has a soft spot for Wealdstone. A self-confessed statto, he has been known to watch football with a spreadsheet (or several) open...