Conte deflects Sanchez rumours as goal drought raises alarm

LONDON • On a day when Chelsea fans were anticipating Antonio Conte's response to whether the club have made a late bid to hijack Manchester United's transfer deal for Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, he remained coy on the rumours.

"I don't know, I don't think so," the Blues manager said yesterday at his pre-match conference ahead of today's FA Cup third-round replay at home to Norwich.

"About the transfer market, I prefer to talk to the club and give an opinion and I repeat, I don't want to give my opinion on that."

But he did clarify that the striker Michy Batshuayi is unlikely to move to Sevilla during this month's transfer window.

"He is Chelsea's player and he is in our squad. Tomorrow he has to play. This is the reality, in the future, I don't know what will happen," the 48-year-old Italian said.

The Times of London reported yesterday that the Chelsea boss is unhappy that the club have recruited just one player, Ross Barkley - who is recovering from injury - at a time when he is desperate for signings who can make an immediate impact on his squad.

Chelsea have eight matches this month, having played four in 11 days at the end of last month, and Conte admitted that his players were suffering from fatigue after Saturday's goalless Premier League draw at home to Leicester, their third stalemate in succession.

"This is a real problem for us. We are not conceding, but the bad news is that we are not scoring. We have to improve in this aspect," he added.

Conte's priority is to bring in a back-up striker, partly because of Alvaro Morata's struggles. The Spain forward has not scored in five matches and is suffering a crisis of confidence.

Apart from Sanchez, Chelsea are reported to be considering short-term moves for West Ham's Andy Carroll and Christian Benteke of Crystal Palace.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2018, with the headline 'Conte deflects Sanchez rumours as goal drought raises alarm'. Print Edition | Subscribe