Saturday 20 July 2019

Conte: I won't pay over the odds

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Jeremy Wilson

Antonio Conte has told Chelsea that he does not want them paying inflated prices for his remaining transfer targets after echoing the concerns of Arsene Wenger about clubs seeking in excess of pounds £50m (€58m) for "medium" talent.

Chelsea still want to sign a centre-back and a striker before the transfer window closes but, having acknowledged a particular "need" at centre-back, Conte was adamant that he would prefer to walk away from deals unless they were fair value.

The club are trying to sign Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly for what could be a club-record fee of £60m (€69m) and they would also like to bring Romelu Lukaku back from Everton.

Conte did not mention specific deals but again described the transfer market as "crazy" and appeared frustrated at still being in flux with some of the key areas of his squad.

"It's very difficult to buy because, if you ask a player of the medium level, they might ask for £55million," he said. "It's very difficult to enter the market with these prices and in this condition."

Asked if he would be comfortable paying over his valuation for a player, he said: "No. I'm not comfortable. I don't like to pay a lot of money. If a player deserves it, then it's right. But for a medium player, it's right to pay the right price, not £20million or £30million over. That's not right. We must be patient and wait. We need to sign some players."

After beginning with a 2-1 win against West Ham United on Monday night, Conte also defended Diego Costa for the challenge on Adrian that might have resulted in a second booking. Conte joined the Chelsea fans in celebrating Costa's eventual winner.

"I'm a passionate man - that is me," he said. "I'm not able to keep my emotions in, I know. Diego is a passionate footballer. Sometimes it can seem that he is always on the edge when he plays. But I'm happy for his attitude, for his behaviour."

Conte's Chelsea travel to Watford for the second game of their Premier League campaign today (kick-off 3pm).

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