Sunday 18 March 2018

Antonio Conte plans summer of major surgery with Chelsea

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Dan Ludlam

Antonio Conte has warned Chelsea that they face a summer of major surgery, regardless of their impending Premier League title.

Conte's side could be crowned champions within the week if they defeat Middlesbrough tonight and then win at West Bromwich Albion on Friday, but their manager says they have plenty of work ahead of them in the close season.

Next season's return to the Champions League has already been guaranteed and while Chelsea are expected to invest heavily again during the summer, player departures are also likely.

"This is a process. I think no one person thought this season that Chelsea could fight to win the title and the FA Cup. For sure, we are in a moment of transition," said Conte.

"We are losing a lot of top players who have written the story, the history, of this club. This season we lost (Branislav) Ivanovic, we lost (John Obi) Mikel and, next season, we'll have lost John (Terry). Don't forget Oscar, who went in the transfer market."

While Chelsea's history makers are heading for the exit door, Diego Costa's future also remains uncertain. The Spain international is the subject of massive interest from China and the Premier League champions-elect will do well to resist cashing in.

A bullish Conte added: "I don't want to think about this problem (Costa). I want to focus and be prepared to find the right solution."

Asked whether new signings were under consideration, he replied: "Yes, for sure. Every team risks losing big players. My expectation was a great challenge in this league against City, United, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool.

"Next season for us it will be the same. But we have one year to work and then the possibility to go into the market and choose the right players on my idea of football."

Irish Independent

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