Chelsea manager Antonio Conte insists Diego Costa retains a "fundamental importance" to the club and will stay put, amid the latest reports linking him with a potential move back to Spain. The fiery striker has scored 32 goals over two seasons in the Premier League since completing a £32m ($42m) switch from Atletico Madrid in the aftermath of an underwhelming 2014 World Cup campaign, yet rumours persist that he is seeking a summer return to the Vicente Calderon.
Speculation in the Spanish press that Costa had submitted a transfer request was recently disputed, while Atletico president Enrique Cerezo has rejected quotes attributed to him earlier this week in which he had appeared to admit that Atletico were in talks with the player and that a deal was "close" to being sealed.
Addressing his charge's future during a press conference held as part of Chelsea's week-long training camp in Austria, Conte was quoted as saying by the club website: "Diego is our player. He is a fantastic player, a player with a fundamental importance and there is no problem.
"He stays with us, he is working very hard, he is very happy to work with his teammates and with me in the new idea of football. He is a Chelsea player. He is an important player, a very strong player, one of the best in the world, and I am sure when he goes into our ideas he will score a lot of goals for us."
Another player who looks set to stay at Stamford Bridge beyond August's transfer deadline is versatile winger Juan Cuadrado. The Colombian international flattered to deceive in English football after joining from Fiorentina last February, failing to impress Jose Mourinho and featuring just 15 times before departing for Juventus on a season-long loan deal.
He won both Serie A and the Coppa Italia during a successful stint in Turin and was expected to complete a permanent move at the end of the season. However, the appointment of known admirer Conte as Mourinho's permanent successor at Chelsea altered those plans. The latter revealed that he actually wanted to sign Cuadrado during his successful three-year stint in charge at Juve and plans to keep him around. He could be particularly useful as a wing-back in the event that Italy's 3-5-2 formation is adopted in west London.
"Cuadrado is Chelsea's player," Conte reiterated. "I like him. He arrived today and this afternoon he starts to train with us."
New recruit Michy Batshuayi also linked up with his new teammates for the first time in Velden yesterday (18 July) following his £33m switch from Marseille, with Conte describing the striker as being in a "good condition" after representing Belgium at the European Championship and revealing that he is working on the physical and tactical elements of his game. Spanish trio Cesc Fabregas, Cesar Azpilicueta and Pedro also arrived at training, along with Cuadrado and England centre-back Gary Cahill.
Chelsea, beaten 2-0 by Rapid Vienna in Conte's first game on Saturday, play their second and final friendly in Austria against RZ Pellets at the Worthersee Stadion tomorrow night. They then travel to the US for International Champions Cup matches against Liverpool, Real Madrid and AC Milan before returning to Europe and rounding off their pre-season schedule with a trip to Werder Bremen.