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Chelsea treated me like criminal—Costa

Exiled Chelsea star Diego Costa has given a withering assessment of head coach Antonio Conte and accused the Premier League champions of treating him as if he were a “criminal”.

Costa was Chelsea’s top scorer with 20 goals as they secured a second league title in three years last season but Conte has since informed the Spain international he does not feature in his first-team plans.

The manner of this rejection provides a major flash point in the current stand-off, with Costa claiming Conte dumped him via text message when he was away on international duty in June.

Chelsea maintain the 28-year-old forward has been aware of their plans since January, around the time he was heavily linked with a move to Tianjin Quanjian in the Chinese Super League.

The upshot is Costa going AWOL, back to his hometown of Lagarto in Brazil, where a UK newspaper tracked him down at his family home while watching the Blues’ shock 3-2 defeat to Burnley.

A return to former club Atletico Madrid remains the desired option for Costa, who is presently racking up fines as he refuses to return to Chelsea and train with the reserves.

“I wouldn’t be allowed access to the first-team dressing room and I would have no contact at all with the guys,” he explained. “I’m not a criminal! I don’t think it is fair after all I have done to be treated like that.

“They gave me a week extra off at the start of pre-season training but since then its fines all the way.

“They want me training with the reserves. I am not going to do that. I am not a criminal and I am not in the wrong here. So, if they need to fine me, let them fine me.”

Atletico’s player registration ban would prevent Costa from playing for them until January but the forward is willing to remain out of action for as long as it takes his Chelsea ordeal to play out.

Costa claimed to have been on the verge of signing a new contract at Stamford Bridge but accused Conte of “putting the brakes on” and sees no prospect of reconciliation with the Italian, who brought in club-record signing Alvaro Morata as his replacement.

Andrew Ekejiuba with Agency Report

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