Monday 10 December 2018

Conte open to allowing Luiz and Batshuayi leave

David Luiz of Chelsea. Photo: Getty Images
David Luiz of Chelsea. Photo: Getty Images

Matt Law

Antonio Conte accepts that David Luiz and Michy Batshuayi may decide they want to leave Stamford Bridge this month.

But Chelsea's head coach insists that he cannot afford to let anybody go without replacing them, even though he will not be hitting the phones in a bid to get deals across the line during this month's transfer window.

Luiz is close to returning from injury, but has dropped behind Andreas Christensen in Conte's defensive plans since falling out with the Italian earlier in the season.

Batshuayi has started only two Premier League games this term and Conte has preferred to play Eden Hazard as a 'false nine' ahead of the Belgian when Alvaro Morata has been out.

The Belgium striker is not unhappy at Chelsea, but wants to play enough to be sure of his place in his country's World Cup squad, while Luiz will not be satisfied with returning from injury to the substitutes' bench.

"I was a player and I will understand if someone is worried about the World Cup," said Conte.

"It's very important to keep players very happy to stay here to work with us and I think this must be our priority. At the same time, I will understand if someone is thinking in this way (that they need to play more)."

"Our squad is not big and for this reason I think it's impossible to send on loan one player or to sell one player if we don't take another player," added Conte, who sold both Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic last summer because they were unhappy at the club.

Chelsea want to strengthen their attacking and defensive options, with Monaco's Thomas Lemar, Alex Sandro of Juventus, and Porto's Alex Telles on their radar and they are also poised to compete with Tottenham for Ross Barkley.

But Conte will not involve himself in negotiations. Asked whether or not he would be busy on the telephone this month, Conte replied: "No, I changed the number. I think there is maybe this habit here, but I'm not involved in the transfer market.

"I give my opinion, but the club decides the players they want to buy, to invest in."

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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