Diego Costa blasts Antonio Conte, Chelsea: 'I'm not a criminal!'
Diego Costa has accused Chelsea of treating him like a "criminal" this summer, and revealed that he has lost all respect for Antonio Conte as a person over the Italian's handling of the situation.
Chelsea began their Premier League title defence with a shock 3-2 defeat against Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday in the absence of their top scorer last season, who has remained in his home town of Lagarto in Brazil while the battle to resolve his future drags on.
Conte sent Costa a text message in June stating that the striker was not in his plans for the new campaign -- an act that complicated Chelsea's summer transfer strategy and infuriated the Spain international, who is adamant that he will only sanction a move back to Atletico Madrid.
Ricardo Cardoso, Costa's lawyer, has pledged to "activate all the legal mechanisms" to force Chelsea to sell his client, and the Premier League champions have been reluctant to discuss the matter publicly or privately in recent days due to the spectre of legal proceedings.
But in an interview with the Daily Mail, Costa went into detail about his side of the acrimonious dispute that has overshadowed Chelsea's preparations for the new season, as well as the breakdown in his relationship with Conte.
"I am waiting for Chelsea to set me free," he said. "I didn't want to leave. I was happy. When the manager does not want you, you have to go. If you were to ask all my teammates, they'd say the same. They send messages saying 'I miss you' and that they love me.
"In January, things happened with the coach. I was on the brink of renewing my contract and they put the brakes on it. I suspect the manager was behind it. He asked for that to happen. His ideas are very fixed and clear. I have seen the sort of person he is. He has his own opinion and that will not change.
"I respect him as a great coach. He has done a good job [at Chelsea] and I can see that, but as a person, no. He is not a coach who is very close with his players. He is very distant. He doesn't possess charisma."
Chelsea's position is that Costa and his representatives were informed that his time at Stamford Bridge was coming to an end in January, when he was dropped by Conte following a training-ground argument. The striker confirmed that the dispute did not arise from a back injury, as was previously reported.
Costa also revealed that Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has called him this summer to find out how he is, and claimed that Chelsea are fining him for his failure to return to England. When contacted by ESPN FC, the Premier League champions declined to comment.
"They want me to be there training with the reserves," Costa added. "I wouldn't be allowed access to the first-team dressing room and I would have no contact at all with the guys. I'm not a criminal! I don't think it is fair after all I have done to be treated like that.
"I want the deal with Atletico resolved this month. My idea would be to go to Madrid, train there, get in the best physical shape and be ready to fire ahead of the World Cup."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.