Cape Town - As Chelsea prepare to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, Cesc Fabregas admits he is sad to see the back of Diego Costa.
The Blues recently agreed to sell the Brazil-born forward back to Atleti after he lost the trust of manager Antonio Conte, but Fabregas, who plays with Costa for the Spain national team, would have prefered the striker to remain at Stamford Bridge.
"Clearly, I would have preferred for him to continue as a team-mate," Fabregas told Marca. "Diego will never be a rival to me.
"In recent years there has not been a pure striker better than him; he understood my game, read my passes and most importantly he could score from them.
"With Diego, it is not just what he gives you on the pitch but it is his character, too. He brings a lot to the group."
Costa will not be involved in Wednesday’s Group C clash at Atleti’s new stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano, as the Spanish club are unable to sign players until next year.
Having bunked Chelsea training all season after falling out with Conte, and watching fellow Spain international replace him in team, Costa is set for even more time without first-team football.
"It's a shame for him more than anyone," Fabregas added.
"Diego knew that if he signed for Atletico he could not play for a few months. It has been a difficult situation for both him and Chelsea; it has been wrong."