Belfast Telegraph

Fernando Llorente: Swansea braced for Diego Costa battle

Fernando Llorente says Swansea are preparing for a "fight" with Chelsea striker Diego Costa on Sunday.

Spain international Costa has rarely been out of the headlines a head of Chelsea's visit to the Liberty Stadium, be it for rediscovering his goalscoring touch or his red card escapes against West Ham and Watford.

Brazil-born Costa also attacked the Spanish media after his performance the recent 2-0 friendly win in Belgium, claiming he would be more fairly treated by journalists if he was a "natural Spaniard" playing for Real Madrid or Barcelona.

"I know he has been criticised in the Spanish media but, for me, Diego Costa is a very good player," said Llorente, a World Cup winner with Spain in 2010.

"We know he fights for everything, for every ball... and fights every player on the other team!

"I have not had fights with him when I have played against him - not ones I remember anyway.

"But I played against him when we were both young and he was at Valladolid.

"He is a good striker who has scored a lot of goals - both in Spain and now here."

Llorente will also come up against another familiar face as Chelsea defend their 100 per cent Premier League record in south Wales.

The 31-year-old played under Chelsea manager Antonio Conte at Juventus in the 2013-14 season when the Spaniard scored 18 goals and the Turin club won Serie A with a record 102 points.

"He (Conte) was good to work for, he was fiery," said Llorente.

"You could speak with him, there is a lot of energy and passion there, and players gave their best of themselves every day.

"He knows when he needs to assert himself to the players, to tell them how to play better.

"Players respected him, but it was not quite fear. I think Chelsea this year will win the Premier League."

Llorente has yet to score in his four Swansea appearances since completing his £5million move from Sevilla last month.

But the striker who made his name with over 100 goals in nine seasons at Athletic Bilbao is confident that he will soon find his best form.

"In the last two weeks I have felt good in training. Maybe, I need to stay like that now in the matches," said Llorente.

"At all times in my career, it has taken a little time to settle.

"The Premier League has been how I expected it to be.

"I am used to this type of football. It is similar to the way we played at Athletic Bilbao.

"I want to start scoring goals as soon as I can and I know I must score a lot to play for Spain again.

"I don't think people will forget about me here as the Premier League is the most watched league (in football)."


From Belfast Telegraph