Trouble appears to be brewing in the background at Stamford Bridge between two of the club’s most important figures, with reports of a major bust-up between Antonio Conte and striker Diego Costa, 90min reports.
The Mirror report that the confrontation was hidden in plain sight in a moment on Saturday afternoon’s comfortable win over Leicester City, when it was believed that Costa was irritated with his manager’s decision not to take him off with the game secure.
While it had been thought that Costa wanted to come off to avoid injury or suspension ahead of next weekend’s crucial clash with Manchester United, the newspaper claim that the Spain international was actually ‘furious’ at what he took as Conte’s continued criticism of his performance from the sidelines.
Far from being the first time that Costa has argued with a manager at Stamford Bridge, the incident bore a startling resemblance in tone to the bust-up the 28-year-old had with Jose Mourinho towards the end of the latter’s reign last season.
Costa was dropped by Mourinho in the aftermath of that incident as the Portuguese manager’s control over his players grew more and more tenuous and, although Conte is unlikely to drop his attacking spearhead for such a crucial game against United just to make a point, there could well be repercussions for Costa behind closed doors.
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) October 18, 2016
The image of a very public argument with one of his key men is unlikely to please Conte after rumours emerged at the end of last week that he was in danger of losing his job in west London early in his tenure – with the Blues’ squad well known for their internal trouble-making issues.
Conte is unlikely to be in any real peril so soon after joining the club but, with on-field performances not matching expectations and the possibility of behind-the-scenes strife, Stamford Bridge could be a place to watch for fireworks later in the season.