Antonio Conte has moved to deny suggestions that Diego Costa will leave Chelsea to return to Atletico Madrid.
Costa departed the Spanish capital for Stamford Bridge in a reported £32million deal ahead of the 2014-15 season and scored 20 goals as Chelsea claimed a Premier League and League Cup double.
However, the Spain striker was blighted by injury last term as Chelsea’s title defence fell apart and the Blues limped to a 10th-place finish.
Costa’s indifferent season meant he was overlooked by Spain for Euro 2016 and Atleti president Enrique Cerezo claimed that talks had begun about bringing Costa back to the Vicente Calderon to reignite his career.
But new Chelsea head coach Conte has no plans to let the striker return to LaLiga.
“Diego is our player, he’s a fantastic player for me. He’s a fantastic player with fundamental importance,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.
“For me it’s not about the possibility to go to this team, or that team, we want him to stay with us. He’s working very hard and he seems very happy to work with his team-mates and a new idea of football.”
Asked if Costa will definitely start the season at Chelsea, Conte responded: “I have learned in football that 100 per cent does not exist but you never know what can happen in life.
“I am very happy to coach Diego and I know that he is our player and he is an important player for me, for his team-mates, for the fans and everyone involved at Chelsea.”
Conte also stated that he would not have gone public with his admiration for a player at a different club as Atleti have done, but says such practice is commonplace during the transfer window.
“It is normal to ask for respect. I don’t know this situation. I know myself, my attitude and my behaviours. I don’t like to speak about the players of other clubs,” he added.
“I’d like that the others don’t speak of the players of my team. I know this period is strange. We respect all but we want respect.”
Rumours of a potential Costa exit were fanned by the arrival of Michy Batshuayi from Marseille, and the Belgium forward has started work with Chelsea following his involvement at Euro 2016.
“Batshuayi has worked with us for two days, he’s in good condition,” he said. “He’s working on the physical and tactical aspect.”
Juan Cuadrado has also started pre-season with Chelsea and former Italy boss Conte says the Colombia winger is in his plans after he was frozen out under former boss Jose Mourinho and spent last term on loan at Juventus.
“Cuadrado is Chelsea’s player,” Conte said. “I like him. He arrived [at Chelsea’s training camp in Austria] and this afternoon he starts training with us.”