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.”
Chelsea’s summer transfer targets 2016/17
Felipe Anderson could be the next Brazilian to make the move to Stamford Bridge after reports suggested that Lazio are prepared to sell the 23-year-old for the right price. Thanks to the winger’s agent Giuliano Bertuolucci, who has strong ties with the club, the Blues have now been linked with the player.
Reports have suggested that the Blues can sign Sporting Lisbon star Joao Mario but only if they fork out £50m for the midfielder. The Portuguese side are keen to fight off interest in the 25-year-old and it remains to be seen whether Chelsea would be prepared to meet such a high asking price.
Another forward on Chelsea’s books? The club are reportedly growing increasingly confident of completing a deal for the Santos teenager and given Chelsea’s Brazilian links (think Oscar, Willian and Kenedy), they might still stand a chance of landing the forward. According to the Daily Mirror, Gabriel has told the club he wants to join them this summer.
Chelsea joined a long list of clubs linked to Morata after the player was recently recalled to Real Madrid. But it seems the Blues face an uphill battle to sign the forward after Madrid declared they won’t be selling the Spaniard as initially thought. The Blues are believed to have already had a €60million offer for the 23-year-old rejected.
The Italian has been subject to interest from the Blues who, according to the Daily Mirror, are refusing to give up on the 29-year-old defender despite competition from Manchester City. The club’s pursuit will be boosted on account of their Italian connection. Antonio Conte, the club’s new manager, took charge of Bonucci during their time together at Juventus, as well as during this summer’s European Championships.
Koulibaly is another centre-back in Chelsea’s sights. They have already tabled a £34m bid, if the reports are to be believed, with £2.5m following in add-ons. The 25-year-old Napoli defender was the subject of an initial £19m bid last month, which was turned down by the Serie A club, and now the Italians are demanding an outrageous £50m for the Senegalese as they look to hold onto him.
After announcing that he wanted to play Champions League next season, Chelsea were one of the first Premier League sides to be linked with the Belgium striker. The club had supposedly asked about the striker’s availability but have been more recently put off by Everton’s £65m valuation. Is he really worth that much?
Despite Roma’s insistence that that the 28-year-old is not for sale, the Blues are reportedly remaining defiant. Conte is looking to bolster his midfield options and is believed to be keen on the Belgium international. The club have already had three bids for the player rejected and could test Roma’s resilience with yet another bid.
While Chelsea haven’t exactly expressed a strong interest in Giaccherini, the player recently said that it would be “a dream” to be reunited with Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge. The Italian, who is currently on loan at Bologna, played under Conte during Euro 2016 but it’s unlikely he’ll be following his fellow countryman to west London.
The rumours surrounding Rodriguez have gone quiet in recent weeks but that’s not to say there won’t be another sudden surge in Chelsea interest. The Colombian star has struggled to assert himself at the Bernabeu and reports suggest the Blues were interested in taking James off Real’s hands for a fee in the £53m region.
Conte’s second Portugal target. Like Mario, Gomes impressed at this year’s Championships and looks set to move on from Valencia after the club failed to qualify for the Champions League. But Juventus and Real Madrid have been leading the chase for the 22-year-old while the Blues recently had a £40m bid for the player rejected.
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.”