Antonio Conte insists he will remain committed to Chelsea even if he doesn’t get the new signings he wants before the transfer window shuts on Thursday.
Conte hasn’t been shy about expressing his frustration at Chelsea’s failure to land his top transfer targets and reports over the weekend suggested the Blues boss would consider resigning if the deadline passed without new recruits joining the champions.
While Chelsea have spent £130 million ($168 million) on Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger since the end of last season, Conte has told Blues owner Roman Abramovich he needs a stronger squad to compete for the Premier League and Champions League.
Linked with Leicester City midfielder Danny Drinkwater, Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Swansea City striker Fernando Llorente, Conte once again reiterated his wish for fresh faces after Sunday’s 2-0 win over Everton.
But the former Juventus coach made it clear he has no intention of walking out whatever happens in the transfer market.
“I think my message for the fans is always the same. I’m totally committed to the club, to improve my players and my team,” he said.
“I’m a coach, not a manager, the best of my work is on the pitch.
“Then for sure when you want to strengthen your squad you have to give your opinion to the club.
“They go to the market to try to help us, sometimes it’s possible, sometimes it’s not.”
Goals from Cesc Fabregas and Morata secured a drama-free victory against lacklustre Everton and Conte’s thoughts quickly turned to the transfer situation when he faced the media at Stamford Bridge.
With Chelsea having seven games in a hectic September, Conte is desperate to bolster a squad shorn of John Terry, Nemanja Matic, Nathan Ake, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek since the end of last season.
The sale of Matic to title rivals Manchester United irked Conte and once again he made it clear Chelsea would be vulnerable if reinforcements don’t arrive.
“There are four days to go in the transfer market. Don’t forget when we start next month we have to play seven games,” he said.
“I need to rotate my players. It’s very difficult to play seven games in a month with the same players.
“The club know very well our situation. They are working very hard.”
– Anything can happen –
Although Morata scored his second Chelsea goal since his move from Real Madrid, the Spain striker was an isolated figure for long periods against Everton and Conte conceded he is still a work in progress.
“It’s not easy for a striker to arrive and adapt immediately to our style. He needs to stay in position as a point of reference for us. I’m pleased he got another goal,” Conte said.
Rocked by their loss to Burnley, Chelsea have steadied the ship with successive wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, prompting Conte to suggest his team have learned from that opening-day shock.
“That game helped us to understand this season will be very difficult. We need to have a lot of concentration and start the game in the right way or anything can happen,” he said.
Like Conte, Everton manager Ronald Koeman hopes for new signings before the deadline, but he wouldn’t be drawn on talk of a move for exiled Chelsea striker Diego Costa.
“We need at least two more players. The most important thing is to get a striker in,” he said.
“I don’t know (about Costa). We are looking at players who are maybe available.”
Koeman also revealed winger Kevin Mirallas had been left out of his squad for showing a bad attitude.
“Everybody can be disappointed, but I expect from everybody to be part of the team and if somebody is showing that he is disappointed and his attitude is not the same, then I make decisions,” Koeman said.