Kurt Zouma has said Diego Costa has accepted his apologies over a language mix-up that saw him refer to his Chelsea teammate as a "cheater" following the controversial 2-0 win over Arsenal. Zouma added that Costa is one of the "funniest and craziest" figures in the dressing room and urged him to not change his behaviour.
The Spaniard was put under big scrutiny after he shoved his hand in the face of Laurent Koscielny just seconds before Gabriel Paulista was sent off. The FA later retrospectively punished the Chelsea forward with a three-game ban and withdraw Paulista's red.
In a post-match interview with BeIN Sport, the French centre-back added fuel to the controversy by saying: "We're not surprised because we know Diego. Everyone knows Diego and this guy likes to cheat a lot and put the opponent out of his game. That happened in the game but he's a really nice guy. We're proud to have him, like the other players, and we're happy to win this game today."
Zouma later used his Twitter account to retract his statement, saying he used incorrect vocabulary due to a poor grasp of English.
The Frenchman has tried to close the lid on the debate for good, saying his apologies have been accepted by the striker, who knew he did not mean what he said.
"I spoke to him and said, 'Sorry, mate' because I didn't want to say that. English is not my first language, so I did not mean it. He told me: 'It's OK, no problem. I know what you wanted to say'," he explained during an interview with Standard Sport. "Diego is a really nice guy. People just don't see it. He is clever because he likes to put a guy off his game, so he loses control. Diego knows what he has to do," the centre-back added. "In training he jokes a lot. He is so friendly. Diego is the craziest guy in the club. He is too funny. Everybody is very happy to have Diego in the team."
The France international, who scored a goal during the game against Arsenal, added that he has a strong relationship with the Spaniard and feels he should not change his playing style despite the ban.
"I did a mistake because I just wanted to say that Diego likes to put pressure on his opponent. After the game, I was tired and was chosen for doping control [a random post-match test for all clubs] so I wanted to go quickly back to my house," Zouma said.
"I didn't remember what I said and I didn't expect it to come out like it did. It was a mistake and I am really sorry for it. It is my second year in England and my English is not perfect. Everybody can make mistakes. That day, I did. I never thought Diego was a cheat. He is a friend. I like this guy. On the pitch he gives everything for the club and the team. I hope he will continue like this. He should not change."