- Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has revealed why the club rejected a €55 million (£47m) bid from Chelsea for defender Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegal international joined Napoli from Belgian side Genk in 2014 for a fee of around £6.5m, but has seen his asking price increas...Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has revealed why the club rejected a €55 million (£47m) bid from Chelsea for defender Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegal international joined Napoli from Belgian side Genk in 2014 for a fee of around £6.5m, but has seen his asking price increase dramatically after a string of impressive performance under manager Maurizio Sarri. Deadly Diego back to kill Spurs's dreams Koulibaly's form had attracted the attentions of Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, but Napoli were unwilling to sell the 25-year-old to the Premier League club without first having adequate replacements at the back. "Chelsea had offered €55m, but I told Conte that I could not give him up without first having a worthy substitute," De Laurentiis told beIN Sports. "[I will not sell him] unless Sarri tells me: 'I have Tom, Dick and Harry who are reliable: you give up who you want'." Koulibaly is contracted to Napoli until 2021, but the player's agent indicated earlier this month that a transfer to Chelsea could still be on the cards. “Chelsea were interested but then they signed David Luiz and you also have John Terry and Gary Cahill at the club so there is a lot of competition there,” Bruno Satin told Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli. “So we will see what happens. A lot of the improvements that Koulibaly has made in his game have been down to the coaching of Maurizio Sarri. Man Utd master Herrera as good as Kante “Whatever happens in the future will depend on the president and whether or not he decides to evaluate any offers that may come in.”
- Southampton manager Claude Puel felt Eden Hazard and Diego Costa proved the difference as Premier League leaders Chelsea ran out 4-2 winners at Stamford Bridge. Hazard fired in his 15th league goal of the season after five minutes but ex-Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu levelled a...Southampton manager Claude Puel felt Eden Hazard and Diego Costa proved the difference as Premier League leaders Chelsea ran out 4-2 winners at Stamford Bridge. Hazard fired in his 15th league goal of the season after five minutes but ex-Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu levelled and Southampton were in the ascendancy before Gary Cahill headed home in first-half stoppage time. Costa back to kill Spurs' title hopes Costa then came to the fore after the interval with a brace – his second a wonderfully worked goal featuring one-twos with Hazard and Pedro. Ryan Bertrand nodded in a late Saints consolation and Puel was largely impressed with his players, but was left to rue two world-class talents. "It was a better performance than against Manchester City [a 3-0 defeat in Southampton's previous match]," he told a post-match news conference. "It's a shame in the end because we had a good game with quality, against a great, good opponent. Conte: Chelsea are great men "But we conceded the goals in bad moments, after five minutes, just before half-time, just after half-time. It's a shame, it's a shame. "We played against great players. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa played well and they were the difference."
- Diego Costa's work rate throughout his recent goal drought won deep admiration from Chelsea coach Antonio Conte. Spain striker Costa scored for the first time in eight matches to give the Premier League leaders a two-goal cushion during the second half of Tuesday's match against...Diego Costa's work rate throughout his recent goal drought won deep admiration from Chelsea coach Antonio Conte. Spain striker Costa scored for the first time in eight matches to give the Premier League leaders a two-goal cushion during the second half of Tuesday's match against Southampton, moving on to 50 career goals in England's top flight. Diego Costa nets 50th PL goal He added a superb second as Chelsea secured a 4-2 win to go seven points clear of Tottenham at the summit, with their nearest rivals in action against Crystal Palace on Wednesday. "It's normal for the strikers that it is important to score. The goals are their life," he told a post-match news conference, having also seen Costa lay on the fifth-minute opener for Eden Hazard. "But, for me, I've always said I've been pleased with his commitment, his work for the team. He always worked for the team. "Sometimes he was unlucky in different circumstances, but I was always confident about him. "After the Tottenham game, I said I'm sure he's keeping his goals for the final weeks of the season. Hazard posts PL best return "Now he must continue. He's very important for us. His confidence is very important for us. "He scored two very beautiful goals, good combination and technique between him and his team-mates." The warm words made the rumoured rift between the two in January, when Costa was linked with a move to the Chinese Super League, seem a long time ago. Conte did not wish to discuss the former Atletico Madrid star's long-term future, with his sole focus resting on the title race. "I continue to repeat this concept: it's important to be focused on the moment because the moment is very important for all of us," he said. Costa back to kill Spurs' title hopes "In this period, I'm reading a lot of speculation about every one of us. It's right to be focused. "I'm sure my players are focused on our targets. It's normal at this part of the season to have someone who wants to put problems in your team, to create also disorder, but we must be stronger than this speculation. "We must be compact and think our target is really important than the other teams'." One player who will not be around next season is club captain John Terry, whose late substitute cameo was his first Chelsea appearance since announcing he would end his career-long association with the club earlier this month. "John, for us, is a really important player," Conte added "He is doing a great job this season. For sure, it's not easy for him. Batshuayi hails 'N'Golo Messi' "This season, he's not playing a lot. Above all, for this, I want to thank John but he knows my admiration for him. "He's helping me a lot, but not only me. Also the team, every single player, and he's always available to accept every one of my decisions. "When you have this type of player, you must be pleased. For me, it will be a great loss next season to lose a player like this."
- Chelsea captain Gary Cahill believes that Antonio Conte's side took a huge step towards regaining the Premier League crown after they beat Southampton 4-2 at Stamford Bridge. Diego Costa ended his goalscoring drought with a well-taken double after Cahill's header had restored Ch...Chelsea captain Gary Cahill believes that Antonio Conte's side took a huge step towards regaining the Premier League crown after they beat Southampton 4-2 at Stamford Bridge. Diego Costa ended his goalscoring drought with a well-taken double after Cahill's header had restored Chelsea's lead - given to them by Eden Hazard's early strike - on the stroke of half-time. The victory takes Chelsea seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham, who face in-form Crystal Palace on Wednesday, and England defender Cahill - who missed out on the FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham through illness - knows the title is now firmly within the Blues' grasp. Costa back to kill Spurs' title hopes "It feels like a massive step to be honest," Cahill told Sky Sports. "It's the first time for a long time that we've played first so we're delighted to get the win. "I had a difficult week with a bit of gall bladder pain but the lads didn't miss me against Tottenham at Wembley. I'm just glad to get back out there. "We've got a big game this weekend, a difficult game [at Everton]. We need to rest up for that. We can watch the game tomorrow with our job done." Cahill's goal came after his former Chelsea team-mate Oriol Romeu had levelled proceedings, and the England international acknowledged his header came at the ideal time. "I just sniffed out a second a ball, Marcos [Alonso] has put it back over and it's a ball that, for a striker or a defender, is dying to be attacked," Cahill added. "I'm sure it deflated them – I've been on the end of those myself. It was great timing." Costa's goals most valuable in PL Hazard may have missed out on the PFA Player or the Year award to team-mate N'Golo Kante, but the Belgian's fifth-minute effort set the tone for Chelsea's dominant display on Tuesday, moving him on to 15 goals for the league campaign. "It's always good to score, to create a lot of chances. We scored four beautiful goals, Tottenham play tomorrow so we put pressure on them," Hazard said. "To be fair I just want to take the trophy at the end of the season. If my goals help the team to win the games I'm happy."
- Antonio Conte praised the character of his Chelsea players after they came through a tough examination against Southampton with a 4-2 win to take them a step closer to the Premier League title. Eden Hazard fired home his 15th top-flight goal of the season to give the hosts an ea...Antonio Conte praised the character of his Chelsea players after they came through a tough examination against Southampton with a 4-2 win to take them a step closer to the Premier League title. Eden Hazard fired home his 15th top-flight goal of the season to give the hosts an early lead at Stamford Bridge but Chelsea old boy Oriol Romeu levelled in the 25th minute. Southampton posed plenty more questions of an uncharacteristically shaky Chelsea for the remainder of the first half but captain Gary Cahill headed them ahead in stoppage time. Costa back to kill Spurs' title hopes Diego Costa ended his recent goal drought with a second-half brace before Ryan Bertrand was the second Stamford Bridge returnee to get on the scoresheet as his former club extended their lead over Tottenham at the summit to seven points. "For sure it was a good win and I think I have to be pleased for the great effort from my players," said Conte, who had expressed his unhappiness at the quick turnaround from the FA Cup semi-final win against Spurs on Saturday. "It wasn't easy to play two-and-a-half days after a tough game against Tottenham and to face this type of team. "Southampton showed today they are a really good team, very strong with good personality and play good football with good players. Diego Costa nets 50th PL goal "We must be pleased for the win. I am pleased for my players because they deserve this win for the great effort they showed me." Hazard, Costa, Cahill and Cesc Fabregas were all recalled to the starting line-up after Conte rotated boldly at Wembley and he felt his players cast his decisions in a favourable light. "After two wins it is normal to do this consideration that my decisions were right but it is not easy for the coach in this situation to make these strong choices," he told Sky Sports. "I must be pleased because I have a squad of great men and great players. "For sure, to score the second goal at the end of the first half was very important for us. I was confident because I was seeing the team have a great will and a great desire to win." Hazard posts PL best return During his decorated playing career, Conte saw Juventus both prevail and collapse down the title stretch, and he does not want his players to become fixated on nearest challengers Spurs, who travel to Crystal Palace on Wednesday. "In this part of the season it is not easy. I was a footballer and I know what happens in every single player," he said. "It is important for us to look at ourselves. These are the most important things for us. This race will continue until the end of the league and for this reason we must be ready."