Diego Costa is the best striker in the world, says Conte

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The Spain international’s hot-headed displays threatened his future at Chelsea last season but his new boss is reaping the benefits of a player reborn.

Chelsea's Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa (R) celebrates with Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte (C) after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge in London on August 15, 2016. Chelsea won the game 2-1. / AFP / Justin TALLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte believes Diego Costa has reined in his famously fiery temperament to the benefit of his Premier League high fliers, making him one of the best strikers in world football.

Conte’s side travel to Middlesbrough on Sunday aiming to chalk up a sixth consecutive top-flight victory and Costa’s resurgence has been key to their superb form.

The Spain international cut a frustrated figure for much of Chelsea’s shambolic title defence last time around, as his on-field spats with opponents and officials often took more limelight than his efforts in the penalty area.

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He has nine goals in 11 Premier League matches as Conte’s attacking spearhead this term and the Italian is delighted by what he identifies as a new-found composure.

“Diego is showing he can control himself. It’s fantastic, and I think that he’s improving a lot in all aspects,” he said, after confirming the former Atletico Madrid star had recovered from a groin problem that sidelined him for Spain’s games against Macedonia and England. “For me now, Diego is one of the best strikers in the world.

“He must continue that, working in this way, with his commitment and work-rate.

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“It’s fantastic to see his work during the games, but also in training.”

Conte was also keen to underline the impressive nature of Costa’s all-round work for the team, with Chelsea revelling under the coach’s 3-4-3 system.

“Diego works a lot with the ball and without the ball. He’s an example for all. And I want to continue this way,” he added.

“If he continues to score, I’ll be very happy. But I’ll be happier to see this commitment, this work-rate during training and in games, to work with the team with and without the ball.

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“If all the players are able to think in this way, it’s fantastic and we’ll be a good team, a very tough team to play.”

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