Antonio Conte insisted that he has no grudge against bad-boy striker Diego Costa, who is on the brink to complete a return to Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea are set to lock horns with Atletico Madrid early next week in the Champions League and that could see Conte coming face-to-face with Costa.
And the Blues boss insisted that he would definitely shake hands with Costa despite their bitter fall-out that sparked months of mud-slinging, with the Brazilian now finally getting his dream move back to his former club Atletico Madrid.
Diego Costa was not wanted at Chelsea anymore after Antonio Conte had informed him that he is no longer in his plans via text message earlier this summer – and the Spanish striker had made it clear that he wanted to return to Atletico Madrid.
Costa is now on the verge of completing a £67million move back to previous club Atletico Madrid after both the clubs agreed on the transfer fee.
And now Conte’s men are preparing to take on Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in the Champions League group stage clash in the Spanish capital on Wednesday.
The Spanish striker will rejoin the La Liga club on a loan move with an obligation to buy, but he will not be able to play for the Spanish side until January.
But it is believed that Costa could be unveiled as an Atletico player before the game.
Asked if he would shake his hand then, manager Conte said: “Yeah, I have no problem.”
Costa went AWOL, training alone in Brazil this summer – and had asked to leave the club three times last season before going on a strike to force his move back to Atletico Madrid and had also accused Chelsea of treating him like a “criminal.”
And it turned out to be one of the ugliest transfer sagas in the Premier League history. Conte denied to praise Costa, who helped him to win the league title in his debut campaign in England and the Blues to their second EPL triumph in three seasons.
Conte said on Friday: “I repeat now: I’m not interested to talk about the past. I think the past is not important.”
“For every player, for every single player, the past stays there. If you did well in the past, okay.”
“I repeat there is a lack of respect for my players, because Diego is an Atletico player.”
“Don’t forget we won together last season. I repeat: for sure we want to thank him for his effort last season with us. Not only last season but in the period that he played for Chelsea.”
“But I think every single player was important last season, we won the title, we won the league — maybe it was a big surprise — and also to reach the final of the FA Cup, every player performed fantastic last season.”
“I want to thank every player who played last season for Chelsea.”
Costa landed in Madrid on Friday and insisted that he holds no grudges against Conte or Chelsea and is only focussed on completing his switch.
“There’s nothing of the sort there, I’m not upset with anybody,” said Costa. “I have no bitterness towards anyone. Everything is cool.”
Speaking about his relationship with the Chelsea fans, he added: “Everybody knows how much I love the fans.”