Belfast Telegraph

Antonio Conte backs 'best striker in world' Diego Costa to upstage Romelu Lukaku

Antonio Conte has backed the "best striker in the world" Diego Costa to upstage Everton's Romelu Lukaku on Sunday - and to guide Chelsea to Premier League glory.

Belgium hitman Lukaku tops the league scoring charts with 24 goals and will be looking to sink his former club when the leaders visit Goodison Park.

But, even though the 23-year-old has been linked with a summer return to Stamford Bridge, Blues boss Conte continues to insist he prefers his 19-goal talisman Costa.

Costa ended a five-match barren spell in the Premier League with a brace in Tuesday's 4-2 win over Southampton, leaving Conte purring over the Spain forward's battling qualities.

"For sure, Lukaku's a good player because he showed in this different season that he scored a lot of goals," the Italian said.

"He's a good guy but for us Diego is a very important player and, in this part of the season, he will be decisive for us.

"I hope it will be Diego who decides Sunday's game because that means we win the game.

"We are talking about two great strikers. But you know that Diego, for me, is the best striker in the world.

"I hope he will be decisive in this game and from now on until the end of the season.

"In this part of the season, for sure, it's very important to have players with good personality, with good strong characters, because you must be ready to face a different situation.

"I think in the team we have a lot of warriors. I work every day to bring them to be warriors.

"I think it's great to have talent. It's great to have talent. But I like a lot when you are a warrior during the game and, above all, if players with talent show they work hard during the game."

Challenging Chelsea to take another "very important step" towards the league crown at Everton, Conte revealed the English dressing-room practice that has taken him by surprise in his first Premier League campaign.

"It was very strange the first time to arrive and to listen to the music in high volume in the dressing room," Conte said.

"It was not a shock but I always thought that before the game you must be focused, no? And I thought silence helped find the focus.

"The music is always different, but for sure, it's not classical music."

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