Thursday 19 July 2018

Conte puts a brave face on frustration over transfers

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. Photo: PA
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. Photo: PA

Mark Critchley

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte accepts that the club will have the final say on any potential new signings when the transfer window re-opens in January.

Conte is hoping to fight on both domestic and European fronts in the new year, with his side chasing a top-four Premier League finish and facing a Champions League knockout tie against Barcelona.

The Italian has just 19 senior players at disposal, however, and his squad's limitations were exposed when, without suspended first-choice striker Alvaro Morata, they were held to a 0-0 draw by Everton.

Despite a clear need for reinforcements, Conte kept his cards close to his chest while discussing potential January business - perhaps with the club's frustrating summer window in mind.

Chelsea, who entertain Brighton today, lost out on several priority targets to rival clubs during those months, with Romelu Lukaku, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fernando Llorente all moving elsewhere after looking likely to end up at Stamford Bridge.

Conte was frustrated at missing out on so many players, but suggested after Saturday's match that the club's transfer process remains the same.

Consideration

"I think this consideration must be done with the club," he said when asked about January signings. "I will give my opinion when I speak with the club.

"In the end the club has always the last word. Not only the club, not only with me… we will do it together."

Conte added: "It is not the right time now to talk about who we will sign. I am very happy to work with these players. I can only talk good about every single player. The effort was great.

"Only time will tell if the squad is big enough to play all these games in all competitions."

While the draw at Goodison Park saw the reigning champions fall 16 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City, Chelsea still remain some way clear of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal and Conte is not currently looking over his shoulder at Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger's respective teams.

"I'm not worried because when you see your team produce such a big effort as we did at Everton, then I am happy," he said.

"Usually you win this type of game, but I am not worried, because we played really well. I like the attitude and effort of my players.

"This league is not simple," he added.

"You have to fight to win it and for the Champions' League places, you have to fight for that."

Independent News Service

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