Antonio Conte: Chelsea players have gotten used to rumours of my departure

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

'If I have a player who is a six, I bring him to an eight, ' said the Chelsea manager.

Antonio Conte has spoken in glowing terms about former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, the man Chelsea want to replace him with if results do not improve. I don't think that anyone trusted us to win the title this season. But, for sure, I'm very happy.

In January, Chelsea signed Ross Barkley from Everton, Emerson Palmieri from Roma and Olivier Giroud from Arsenal.

Other players recommended by Conte, most notably Leonardo Bonucci and Fernando Llorente, were dismissed by Chelsea as being too old to fit the broader remit of refreshing the squad with younger players who can grow at Stamford Bridge and accumulate in value.

"I'm this type of coach". I have great admiration for Luis Enrique and he is a fantastic coach.

"I think the most important thing is to understand the situation and understand what your targets are". [But] we are talking about a team that is fourth in the league, that is preparing to face the game against Barcelona.

"I think that, in my opinion, you continue to work with a manager or coach not because of what he achieves in one season, but because you trust in him", he added.

Conte pulled off an unlikely Premier League title win last season, in his first campaign in charge at Stamford Bridge, after he took over a Chelsea side that finished 10th in the standings in 2015/16.

With a two-legged Champions League tie against Barcelona coming up as well as matches against the two Manchester clubs, Conte felt this week was a rare opportunity for his players to have a break. A club can take different decisions. "I repeat, my commitment is totally for this club, like that of my players", Conte told the press at Chelsea's training ground.

Speculation that Conte could leave west London before his contract expires in summer 2019 has increased in the past fortnight following successive heavy defeats to Bournemouth and Watford. I have, usually, a great respect. I personally believe that he should be given a longer leash given his achievements with the club last season.