Chelsea Icon Reveals How Antonio Conte Can Get The Best Out of Diego Costa

Diego Costa
Diego Costa, right, at Stamford Bridge, London, January 22. Costa is believed to have fallen out with Chelsea coaching staff, and was linked with a move away from the club. ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty

Tough love is the key for Antonio Conte to get Diego Costa playing his best, according to former Chelsea defender Michael Ballack.

Costa, 28, is believed to have fallen out with coaching staff at Stamford Bridge, amid interest from the Chinese Super League, but returned to the team on Sunday with a goal.

Ballack, who won six major trophies with Chelsea, believes Conte needs to be hard on the Spaniard.

"I think there is an emotional aspect, you need to find the right access…with toughness," the German said, according to reports in The Times. "He took him out of the squad, which was an understandable situation, but also the answer was good from Costa.

"The club will make a decision. He has a contract and if he understands, if they make him understand, that this is the right club, he has a contract and he should do his job. If he understands that, it should work."

Chelsea is first in the Premier League table, eight points clear of second-placed Arsenal, with 16 games remaining in the season.

This Saturday, Conte's team competes in the FA Cup fourth round, hosting Championship club Brentford at Stamford Bridge