Saturday 24 March 2018

Conte ready to play the waiting game

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Head coach Antonio Conte is prepared to be patient over Chelsea’s transfer activity this month and again declined to comment on the Blues’ rumoured targets

Premier League champions Chelsea have been linked with Roma's Edin Dzeko. On Thursday they reportedly turned to Stoke's Peter Crouch, who is 37 on January 30, after an ankle injury sustained by West Ham's Andy Carroll, another reported target.

Should any move for former Liverpool and Tottenham striker Crouch materialise this month it would be a permanent deal, it's believed. But Conte was reluctant to comment on recruitment, taking his regular stance of deferring to the club hierarchy.

Asked if he was confident of adding the players he wanted to his squad, Conte said: "I'm confident? Confident is a big word. We have to wait.  "I give my opinion to my club, but the final decision is for the club.

"I have to wait and to see what happens during this transfer market. I'm very calm under this aspect."

Conte, speaking ahead of Chelsea's Premier League trip to Brighton on Saturday, refused to discuss any specific transfer links.  "It's not right to talk about players of other teams. I'm not interested in it," Conte added. "I'm not interested in this conversation, because this is disrespectful for my players, for the players of the other clubs.

"In this period there is a transfer market, if something happens, you know. You are the first media to know news."

Asked if the names linked with Chelsea suggest the Blues are thinking short-term, Conte added: "I don't know. I think during the transfer market, especially in January, if you go into the transfer market it means you need to improve your squad and you have to see in a short period and you have to see in a long period."

Chelsea are unbeaten in 11 games, but without a win in 2018, drawing all five games since the turn of the year.

Conte's men prevailed in Wednesday night's FA Cup third-round replay against Championship Norwich on penalties after extra-time and penalties.

Pedro and Alvaro Morata are suspended for the trip to Brighton after their dismissals against Norwich, with both players receiving a first booking for diving.  Willian was also shown a yellow card in an incident which invited scrutiny on the Video Assistant Referee.

Conte says Morata's yellow card was unfair, but he criticised the Spain striker's response which earned him an immediate second booking for dissent, while Pedro was rebuked for diving.

"For Pedro we must be honest to accept Pedro dived," Conte said.  Defender Gary Cahill and midfielder Cesc Fabregas (both hamstring) remain out.

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