Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Diego Costa was left out of Chelsea’s squad for the Premier League leaders’ game at Leicester City on Saturday after reports of a bust-up with coaching staff.
Reports emerged on Friday that the Brazil-born Spain international, Chelsea’s top scorer with 14 league goals, had been dropped by coach Antonio Conte after a training-ground row over his fitness.
Asked to explain Costa’s absence, Conte told BT Sport: “On Tuesday, Diego stopped training with a pain in his back and then in the week he didn’t train with us.
“We played without Diego against Bournemouth and we have had time to prepare for this. We’ve prepared very well.”
Costa, 28, is reported to have received a contract offer from an unnamed Chinese club worth £30 million ($36.5 million, 34 million euros) a year.
In Costa’s absence, Conte aligned Eden Hazard as a central striker, flanked by Willian and Pedro Rodriguez.
Chelsea’s 13-game winning run was ended by a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on their last league outing.
Tottenham trimmed their lead to four points by beating West Bromwich Albion 4-0 earlier in the day.