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Diego Costa of 'fundamental importance' to Chelsea boss

Conte sees Costa as fundamentally important to his plans. Credit: PA

New Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has rubbished rumours that striker Diego Costa could be set to leave Stamford Bridge.

The 27-year-old Spain international has been linked with a return to former club Atletico Madrid after two seasons in England - the first of which saw Costa finish with a Premier League winners' medal.

But, despite sanctioning a deal to bring Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi to the club, Conte is determined to keep the Brazilian-born forward among his ranks for his debut campaign at the helm.

Conte said at a press conference in Austria:

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 team-mates 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.

– Chelsea manager Antonio Conte


Chelsea announce signing of Leicester's N'Golo Kante

N'Golo Kante has moved from Leicester City to Chelsea Credit: PA

Chelsea have announced the signing of N'Golo Kante from Leicester on a five-year deal.

The France international has passed a medical and put pen to paper on a five-year-contract, the Stamford Bridge club have confirmed.

The fee is reported to be around £32million for the 25-year-old.

Kante, signed for Leicester last summer from Caen for £5.6million, was a revelation during his maiden season in England as Claudio Ranieri's side became shock Premier League champions.

He was named on the six-man shortlist for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award - won by Foxes team-mate Riyad Mahrez - but his displays also brought him to the attention of Europe's biggest clubs.

The Foxes released a statement confirming they had offered Kante a long-term contract on "substantially improved" terms, but the French midfielder has opted to swap the champions of last season for a new beginning under Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge and spoke of his happiness at the move.

I am so happy to have signed for one of the biggest clubs in Europe. It’s a dream come true for me.

The opportunity to work with Antonio Conte, a brilliant coach, and some of the best players in the world was simply too good to turn down.

My first season in English football was very special and now I hope to go on to achieve even more during my time as a Chelsea player. I am looking forward to meeting up with my new team-mates and helping the club achieve a lot of success.

– N'Golo Kante

Chelsea belongs in the Champions League - Conte

Antonio Conte wants Chelsea back in the Champions League Credit: PA

New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has said his club belong in the UEFA Champions League and must work hard to get back to challenging for major honours on a regular basis.

The Blues finished 10th in last season's Premier League and won only 12 of their 38 matches, meaning no European football for Conte's first campaign in charge.

He has already begun to reshape his squad with the arrival of Michy Batshuayi, while several more signings are expected before the 2016-17 season kicks off, but the former Italy managerpointed out the squad's work ethic, rather than their collective cost, must be the determining factor for success.

Chelsea belongs in the Champions League and we must stay there.

I know only the road to take the club back to competing and winning the title - work, work, work.

The coach is a tailor who must make the best dress for the team. Last season in 10th was a bad season, but we must think to the present.

– Antonio Conte

John Terry to remain Chelsea captain under Conte

Antonio Conte will continue with John Terry as Chelsea captain, whether or not the defender plays.

Conte has named John Terry as his Chelsea captain. Credit: Reuters

The 35-year-old defender signed a one-year contract extension - his third such deal - in May, having in January declared his expectation that he would leave this summer.

Terry, who has made more than 700 appearances for the Blues, has been reassured his considerable influence is valued.

"Yes, John Terry is the captain of Chelsea when he plays, when he doesn't play. You are always the captain," Conte said as he was unveiled as Chelsea head coach at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

"He's captain of this team, he's a great player, with a great personality, with great charisma.

"I like to speak to him because he knows the club, the right spirit to play in this club and for me he's an important player.

"When a player deserves to play, with me, (they) play."

Reading sign midfielder from Chelsea

John Swift has arrived from Stamford Bridge. Credit: PA

Championship side Reading have completed the signing of midfielder John Swift from Chelsea.

Swift, 21, has signed a three-year deal with The Royals, having spent last year out on loan at Brentford.

John is a very talented player. I’ve seen him play and I think he could be very important in the way we want to play.

He can play as a winger on either side, or as an attacking midfielder. His physique is good, he is good on the ball, he has the pace to get past players, and he has the capability of putting his teammates in front of goal with chances to score. He is going to be a big asset for the club.

– Reading manager Jaap Stam


Chelsea send youngster back to Vitesse

Lewis Baker spend last season in Holland. Credit: PA

Chelsea have announced that England Under-21 midfielder Lewis Baker is to spend a second season out on loan at Eredivisie side Vitesse Arnhem.

The 21-year-old made 34 appearances for the Dutch outfit last season, scoring five goals - including the club's goal of the season - and will return as part of Chelsea's ongoing link with Vitesse.

Baker has yet to feature for the Blues' first team and has previously spent time out on loan at Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons.

Chelsea defender would consider Middlesbrough switch

Kalas has spent the last 16 months on loan at the Riverside Stadium from Chelsea. Credit: PA

Tomas Kalas has admitted he would have to think seriously about a permanent switch to Middlesbrough if he was offered the chance to play for the club in the Barclays Premier League.

The 23-year-old Czech Republic international has spent the last 16 months on loan at the Riverside Stadium from Chelsea, where he signed a new three-year deal last summer.

However, the defender has made only two starts for the Blues since arriving from Sigma Olomouc in January 2011, compared with the 47 appearances he has made for Boro.

Kalas told the Evening Gazette: "I don't know how many games I've played since I came - probably around 40, which is not bad in one and a half years.

"That's why I came here, to play games and hopefully I'll keep playing next season - maybe here.

"If I could get the deal [to move to Boro permanently], I would really think about it. Yes, why not?"

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