Conte’s clear message to Chelsea
‘We have only 16 players. We need to spend millions and millions more. Or else’
Antonio Conte is targeting a huge spending spree at Chelsea this summer as he bids to rebuild his title-winning squad.
Conte has already broken the club’s transfer record with the £58 million signing of Alvaro Morata but has sent out a clear message during Chelsea’s tour of the Far East that more players are required.
Chelsea’s squad has reduced since securing the Premier League title after the departures of former captain John Terry, Nathan Ake and Nathaniel Chalobah, while Diego Costa is set to join Atletico Madrid and Nemanja Matic is wanted by Manchester United.
Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Willy Caballero were signed before Morata’s record move, taking the summer spending towards the £130million mark. But Conte has demanded more signings as he prepares to defend the title and challenge in the Champions League for the first time since his appointment at Stamford Bridge in 2016.
“We need to improve the quality and improve the squad because next season will be very tough for us,” he said. “We are 16 players, without the goalkeepers, and to face four competitions in a good way we need more players.
“We are in a moment where we have to create solid foundations for this club, we have lost a lot of big players that were fundamental at Chelsea. We can’t make a mistake because it’s very dangerous. I repeat, we need to improve and increase our squad and to be something important for the present but also for our future.
“I have spoken with the club, they know this situation very well and we are trying to find the right solution.”
Conte pledged his own future to the champions by signing a new two-year contract earlier this week and Chelsea’s board are hopeful of at least another three signings ahead of the new season.
Chelsea are also fully supportive of Conte’s stance on Costa, who will be axed this summer after his relationship with the club hit rock bottom. And Chelsea’s manager has expanded on the reasons behind Costa’s impending sale, insisting the squad will cope without last season’s leading scorer.
“Only one player is not important. The most important thing is the team, the squad and it’s important now to be together. You can’t just lose it after one player,” he said.
“I want to clarify the situation because in January it was very clear for the club, for Costa, for his agent, that when we arrived in June then it would be finished. It was very clear from January.”
Friendly fire: Michy Batshuayi scores one of his two goals in Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing yesterday