Antonio Conte admitted that Chelsea have to “wait” to land their top targets over the final weeks of the window as they adjust to life in the “crazy transfer market”.
Chelsea have only made two new signings this summer, Ngolo Kante from Leicester City and Michy Batshuayi from Marseille, and have been frustrated in their pursuit of another centre-forward and centre-back. This means that Chelsea will not face West Ham United on Monday evening, in Conte’s first game in charge, with quite the first team they were hoping for.
Conte does not like to talk about transfers in public, and would not discuss any particular targets in his first pre-match press conference at Cobham on Friday afternoon. But he did say that the inflated state of the market was restricting Chelsea’s ability to sign the players that they want.
“Every single club adapts transfer policy,” Conte said. “I think Chelsea is waiting for the right solution. In this moment it is not easy. It is a crazy transfer market. When you try to buy one player the cost is very expensive. It is a very strange situation. We are waiting for the solution.”
Chelsea have not yet been able to close deals for Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli or Romelu Lukaku from Everton, but Conte insisted that he was content to go into Monday’s West Ham game with the players he already has.
“It is important to think for the present,” Conte said. “I talk every day with the club and we have a plan. This transfer market is very crazy. We must be patient. I am happy to work with these players.”
There are still question marks hanging over many of these Chelsea players who Conte inherited this summer, including Nemanja Matic. Despite speculation linking Matic with a move to Conte’s former club Juventus, Conte insisted the Serbian midfielder was part of his plans.
“Nemanja is an important player for me and he knows this,” Conte said. “There is not a problem with him and he was a Chelsea player and is a Chelsea player.”
While Conte famously played 3-5-2 with Juventus and with Italy at Euro 2016, he insisted that he was not attached to that system at Chelsea and would choose the best formation for his players. “In my past I played with three or four defenders, but it is important for the coach to understand the right fit for the team,” he said.
“My first experience in Siena I played 4-2-4 and when I arrived Juventus I started with 4-2-4, then changed 4-3-3, then changed to 3-5-2. With the national team in two years we changed to different to system to find the right solution. A manager must understand to get to know the players and to find the right solution. Now in pre-season we have found two solutions but in the future it can happen.”