Conte laments lack of say in moves after League Cup exit

Granit Xhaka scoring Arsenal's second goal against Chelsea to complete their comeback in the League Cup semi-final second leg at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners will play Manchester City in the final at Wembley on Feb 25.
Granit Xhaka scoring Arsenal's second goal against Chelsea to complete their comeback in the League Cup semi-final second leg at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners will play Manchester City in the final at Wembley on Feb 25.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte insisted that he has little influence over the club's transfer market activity after they were knocked out of the League Cup by Arsenal on Wednesday.

The Blues were beaten 2-1 in the second leg of their semi-final after taking the lead at the Emirates Stadium. The first leg at Stamford Bridge ended 0-0.

The result capped a difficult period for the side, who have failed to win six of their last seven games, discounting the penalty shoot-out success over Norwich in the FA Cup.

The Italian said that his squad was under pressure due to a number of injuries and he was seemingly unhappy at a lack of activity in the transfer market.

"I don't have a big impact in the transfer market," he told reporters.

Chelsea have reportedly targeted several strikers in this month's transfer window, including Andy Carroll and Ashley Barnes, as Conte looks to ease the burden on summer recruit Alvaro Morata.

They have also been linked with a move for Roma forward Edin Dzeko, and media reports in Italy on Wednesday said a deal was close. When asked about the Bosnian, Conte reiterated that the situation was out of his hands.

"I don't like to speak about the transfer market, the club decides our transfer market, as I said before my task is to try to improve my players," he added.

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  • Chelsea's win rate in regulation time in the past seven matches.

Dzeko, together with his Brazilian team-mate Emerson Palmieri, is reported to be worth a £44 million (S$82 million) bid plus add-ons of £13.2 million, .

While negotiations with Palmieri, a left-back, will be straightforward Dzeko, who spent five years at Manchester City, will still need convincing to return to the Premier League and is seeking assurances over the amount of game time he will enjoy.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, does not seem to have problems with the transfer market and said that the victory showed that the Gunners were over the upheaval caused by the transfer of striker Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United.

Arsenal endured a poor run of form in recent weeks but the comeback win over Chelsea means they will face Manchester City in the final on Feb 25. "I felt that in January we paid a heavy price for uncertainty in our dressing room," Wenger told reporters.

"Now we are back with more clarity. We know what we have to do. We can focus on our game."

Arsenal showed little sign of missing Sanchez as they recovered from an early goal by Chelsea's Eden Hazard to turn around the second leg with an own goal by Antonio Rudiger and a second-half strike by Granit Xhaka.

"I am perfectly happy with the players we have," Wenger added.

"We are open to strengthening the team and the squad. However, we are not close to signing anybody."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2018, with the headline 'Conte laments lack of say in moves after League Cup exit'. Print Edition | Subscribe