Belfast Telegraph

Wantaway Diego Costa given the cold shoulder for Chelsea's European assault

 

By Robert Jones

Diego Costa has been left out of Chelsea's Champions League squad.

The striker was included in Chelsea's official Premier League list, but has been omitted from their 25-man squad for European action.

The 28-year-old is yet to return to Chelsea for the new season having remained in Brazil in a bid to force a move to Atletico Madrid. Atletico's transfer ban means the Spain forward cannot move until January.

Former Atletico striker Costa claimed Chelsea had treated him like a "criminal" in insisting he would not return to west London, but manager Antonio Conte has since laughed off those remarks.

Chelsea missed out on signing Fernando Llorente, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley in a frenetic end to the transfer window.

The return of a fit, focused and compliant Costa would doubtless strengthen boss Conte's hand, but Chelsea have left the door open to a mid-season move by omitting the Spain striker from their European ranks.

Costa would avoid being cup tied if he does not make any European appearances for Chelsea, making him a more attractive signing for Atletico.

While Chelsea want their player to return to the club and fulfil the terms of his contract, his omission from the Champions League ranks serves as another reminder of his exiled status at Stamford Bridge.

Eden Hazard meanwhile believes Chelsea boast a squad capable of challenging on all fronts, despite the Blues missing out on summer transfer targets.

Belgium star Hazard remains convinced that Chelsea have the power to fight for silverware across the board - especially amid their return to the Champions League.

He said: "I think this year will be no different from the previous years in the sense that every year it is difficult, especially when you play in many competitions.

"This year we have the Champions League as well and it is not easy to succeed in multiple competitions. But we will do our best and we have got depth in our squad so sometimes maybe one or two players can rest so they are 110% for the next competition.

"We just want to win as many trophies as possible, for me personally I haven't won the Champions League so maybe that one would be a little bit more special."

Hazard missed the start of Chelsea's new campaign due to an ankle injury, but has returned to action with Belgium during the international break.

He hailed boss Conte as one of the world's top managers as the Stamford Bridge club set about defending their league crown.

"I have a good relationship with all my managers," said Hazard. "You know we train every day together and we can talk together and laugh together. So yes we have a good relationship.

"I wouldn't say 'friends' because it is difficult to be friends with your manager but we have a good relationship.

"I think we have got one of the best managers in the world. We are really happy with him."

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