Coach hopes Os­car, Mikel de­par­tures are the only ones

The Star (Jamaica) - - FRONT PAGE -

Coach An­to­nio Conte hopes he has seen the last of the Chelsea ex­o­dus to the lu­cra­tive Chi­nese Su­per League. Mid­fielder John Obi Mikel fol­lowed hot on the heels of Brazil­ian play­maker Os­car’s big-money move to Shang­hai SIPG when he joined Tian­jin TEDA on Fri­day. Al­though nei­ther were key play­ers in Conte’s squad this sea­son, the Chelsea coach does not want any more of his play­ers fol­low­ing them. “I hope this of­fer from China fin­ishes with Mikel and Os­car,” Conte said yes­ter­day. “I think that it’s im­por­tant now to re­main with this squad.” The Ital­ian, who took charge this sea­son, hinted at bring­ing in re­in­force­ments in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow, but said the Premier League leader is “not close” to re­cruit­ing any­one yet.

LIM­ITED OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES

He has, how­ever, ruled out bring­ing in a cen­tre back with France de­fender Kurt Zouma avail­able again fol­low­ing a long-term knee in­jury. “I don’t think we need an­other cen­tral de­fender,” Conte said. Zouma will start to­mor­row’s FA Cup third-round match against third-tier Peter­bor­ough at Stam­ford Bridge, as will Bel­gium striker Michy Bat­shuayi, who has been given lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties since his move from Mar­seille in the sum­mer. “I have a good op­por­tu­nity in this game to see Michy from the start,” Conte said. “I think it’s im­por­tant. He’s work­ing a lot. I’m see­ing that he’s im­prov­ing. Sun­day for him, but also for other play­ers, could be a good op­por­tu­nity to show me that he de­serves to play more.” Chelsea’s run of 13 con­sec­u­tive league wins ended with a 2-0 de­feat at Tot­ten­ham on Wed­nes­day and Ital­ian Conte wants a quick re­sponse. “One de­feat is enough for us now. In ev­ery game our men­tal­ity must be that we have to try to win ev­ery game,” he said. “FA Cup or league (it) doesn’t change. I want al­ways the same men­tal­ity, the right men­tal­ity, a win­ning men­tal­ity.”

LON­DON, AP:

Chelsea’s Os­car (right) eludes a slid­ing chal­lenge from Derby’s John Eus­tace dur­ing the English FA Cup third-round match be­tween Derby County and Chelsea at the iPro Sta­dium in Derby, Eng­land., Jan­uary, 2014.

Mikel

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