Antonio Conte insists he harbours no lingering regrets over Chelsea's failure to re-sign Romelu Lukaku during the summer transfer window. The Everton striker, who departed for Merseyside in a £28m ($35m) deal two years ago after making just 15 appearances in a three-year stint at Stamford Bridge, has been persistently linked with a big-money return to his former club amid rival interest from the likes of Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.
In-form Chelsea will come face-to-face with the player once again this weekend as they attempt to extend their formidable 21-match home unbeaten run against Everton in the Premier League. However, any disappointment that Conte may have felt regarding an inability to prise one of his priority targets away from Goodison Park appears to have been alleviated by the form of Spanish international Diego Costa, who has already scored 11 goals in just 15 matches for club and country so far this season. Lukaku, by contrast, has managed 10 in 12 appearances.
"I regret for nothing," the manager was quoted as saying by Reuters at a pre-match press conference held on Friday (4 November). "We have Diego who is playing fantastic football, not only scoring the goals but working a lot and very well for the team.
"I think that I'm seeing a complete player in Diego. It's fantastic for me, for the team, to have him in the team. He's scoring a lot but, above all, he's working a lot for the team.
"That's very important. When we have our strikers, plus Eden Hazard, Pedro, Willian and Oscar all working so well for the team, it's fantastic. Lukaku is a very good player, young and improving a lot, but it's right to talk about my players. I'm very satisfied with my players. I hope Diego continues in this way because his commitment is incredible."
Chelsea experienced something of a wobble in September after making an impressive start to former Juventus and Italy boss Conte's first campaign at the helm, but have come roaring back in recent weeks by chalking up four consecutive top-flight wins. A switch to a three-man backline has yielded fantastic results defensively and the team have not conceded a single goal in the Premier League since an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at Arsenal in September.