Conte's mind on shopping ahead of Everton clash

Wayne Rooney, shielding the ball against Hajduk Split, has two goals in two league games for Everton, as Chelsea lie in wait.
Wayne Rooney, shielding the ball against Hajduk Split, has two goals in two league games for Everton, as Chelsea lie in wait.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Exasperated by the Chelsea board's failure to land his top transfer targets, Antonio Conte hopes today's clash with Everton will be the prelude to a last-minute shopping spree by the Premier League champions.

Since the London football club won the title last season, the manager has been warning his employers that a host of new signings are required to ensure his team mount a strong defence of the English crown while also competing in the Champions League.

Last season, Chelsea benefited from their absence from Europe as Conte's players were rested and rarely injured while they powered to the title in style.

But this season injuries, suspensions and a lack of success in the transfer market have combined to create the look of a club in crisis.

A win over title rivals Tottenham last weekend was a much-needed morale-booster, but the intense Italian has not let that dampen his desire for more signings before the transfer window closes on Aug 31.

Conte has signed only Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko since last term, while even today's opponents Everton have out-spent Chelsea with a £140 million (S$244.5 million) recruitment drive. The Blues have been linked with Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater, Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.

Diego Costa remains exiled in Brazil after falling out with Conte and Everton manager Ronald Koeman has cheekily suggested his willingness to take the striker on loan.

For now, Koeman will look to Wayne Rooney to lead his attack at Stamford Bridge after the 31-year-old last week announced his retirement from England duty.

Rooney has scored in Everton's first two league games and his team head to Chelsea in confident mood after advancing to the Europa League group stage. Chelsea are looking to avoid consecutive home league defeats for the first time since November 2011, but Everton have not won at the Bridge for 23 years.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CHELSEA V EVERTON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'Conte's mind on shopping ahead of Everton clash'. Print Edition | Subscribe