Diego Costa fired Chelsea to the top of the Premier League with his winner against Middlesbrough.
Antonio Conte’s men ousted Liverpool at the summit, sending out a firm message to their title rivals that they mean business this season.
Costa’s goals have been key to their revival, but the Spain international has still been criticised at times for his temperament – including a spat with Conte when he wanted to be substituted in the win over Leicester City in October.
Yet, the former Italy manager now thinks the striker has harnessed that passion into something more positive, and the Blues are reaping the rewards.
“For me, it is also important we have this question [about his temperament] because in the past people always asked me about his reaction, his behaviour and his passion on the pitch,” he said, via the Telegraph.
“I think he is a striker who is one of the best in the world because he is showing his passion in the right way.
“He is very focused on trying to help the team, with or without the ball.”
Chelsea welcome Tottenham to Stamford Bridge next weekend in what is likely to be a highly-charged affair. The corresponding fixture last season saw Tottenham set a record for the number of yellow cards received in a Premier League match.
That 2-2 draw also saw Chelsea end Spurs’ title hopes, so Costa must rise above it if Saturday’s game descends into a similarly hostile environment.