‘Eng­land is the best league so play­ers will stay’

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LON­DON: Chelsea man­ager An­to­nio Conte is not wary of big-spend­ing Chi­nese clubs poach­ing his play­ers amid re­ports that a lu­cra­tive of­fer from Far East has un­set­tled Premier League’s joint-top scorer Diego Costa.

Os­car and John Obi Mikel have al­ready left Chelsea to join Chi­nese Su­per League sides in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow, while me­dia re­ports sug­gest play­maker Wil­lian is also on the radar.

“I think we are a great club and it’s a great hon­our to play for Chelsea and for this rea­son I don’t see (China) as a threat for my play­ers. The money is not every­thing,” Conte said.

“When you play for a great team like Chelsea, you must be pleased. I have to look at the past. Os­car played with us, had a good of­fer from China and he went,” Conte added.

“But this league is re­ally com­pet­i­tive and ev­ery player wants to come and play in this league.

“This league is the first in the world be­cause of a lot of pos­i­tive things. For this rea­son, I don’t think these of­fers from China are a threat for our league.”

Costa missed Satur­day’s 3-0 win over Le­ices­ter City and Conte said it was due through a back in­jury even if spec­u­la­tion was strife about a pos­si­ble Chi­nese of­fer for the striker.

Conte said he was pleased with the way his side has re­sponded af­ter Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur ended their 13-games winning run this month.

“When you win 13 in a row and then you ar­rive at the mo­ment where you suf­fer a de­feat, to restart is not easy,” the Ital­ian said.

“I know this from when I was a foot­baller and I un­der­stand, the psy­cho­log­i­cal as­pect is very im­por­tant.

“But I think we started very well in the FA Cup and in the league to win against a team that is very tough and with re­ally good play­ers and a good man­ager.”

Lead­ers Chelsea host third­from-bot­tom Hull City on Sun­day.

Mean­while, Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino has urged his Spurs side to draw on the ex­pe­ri­ence of their failed ti­tle bid last sea­son to launch a suc­cess­ful as­sault for the Premier League tro­phy this cam­paign.

Tot­ten­ham chased Le­ices­ter for much of last sea­son but wilted in the fi­nal weeks to even­tu­ally fin­ish third, be­low the Foxes and north Lon­don ri­vals Ar­se­nal.

Tot­ten­ham’s 4-0 thrash­ing of West Bromwich Albion on Satur­day lifted the club to sec­ond in the ta­ble, seven points be­hind lead­ers Chelsea af­ter 21 games, and their sixth league win in a row has shown last year’s tilt was not a one-off.

“Last sea­son was the first time for 99 per­cent of the play­ers fight­ing to win the Premier League and the im­por­tant thing is that you are clever. We are show­ing that we are clever and we learn a lot,” Po­chet­tino said.

“We are show­ing af­ter 21 games that we can com­pete and we are in a very good po­si­tion. It is true that the gap with Chelsea is still big, but there are a lot of games ahead un­til the end of the sea­son.”

Ar­se­nal man­ager Arsene Wenger and Conte have pre­vi­ously ex­pressed their con­cern that a grow­ing num­ber of play­ers could be lured to China and Po­chet­tino struck a more cau­tious tone.

“It’s crazy money, it looks like they broke the mar­ket. If it’s true, it’s un­be­liev­able but we will see what hap­pens.” – Reuters

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