There are just two days to go until the opening of the mid-season transfer window and Antonio Conte was asked about Chelsea’s plans in his Friday afternoon media conference.
The boss was speaking at Cobham ahead of the final game of 2016 which will take the Blues to the halfway stage of the season as league leaders regardless of the result against Stoke, and reporters were keen to hear if he believes the squad needs alterations for the second half of the campaign.
‘In January it is always very difficult to buy because every team thinks to keep their best players, not to sell,’ he responded, ‘but with the club we are thinking about the best way to face the rest of the season. For sure we are thinking about our situation and our squad.
‘When you have a good group, a new player can arrive into the group in a simple way, and for sure we have sold Oscar and we have money to spend, but it is important to spend money in the right way. I prefer to buy players adapted to our system that can come into our team and pass, but I repeat, it is not easy in January to find these type of players but with the club, we are working on this aspect.’
Conte emphasised the player resources already at the club’s disposal are being considered just as much as possible new signings, including the young squad members and players who have been on loan.
‘We have a lot of young players and I trust in them,’ he said. ‘Ola Aina, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah, and also we have Zouma returned.
‘Kenedy and Charly Musonda came back from their loans at Watford and Real Betis because they didn’t play a lot and for this reason it is important for them to stay with us these weeks to evaluate the best situation for them and the team.
‘It is important also to work with these type of young players to try find the right solutions at home, and if this is not possible, it is important to look around to find the solution.’
Conte was also asked about media rumours linking Thibaut Courtois to a move elsewhere.
‘Thibaut for me is one of the best, if not the best goalkeeper in the world,’ he said. ‘He is working very well and is a fantastic goalkeeper and he stays with us, this is the most important thing and the other situations are only speculation.’