Saturday, October 23, 2021

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte hopes Oscar, John Obi Mikel departures are the only ones

Neither Oscar nor John Obi Mikel were key players in Antonio Conte's squad this season.

By: AP | London |
January 7, 2017 3:55:35 pm
Britain Football Soccer - Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea - Premier League - White Hart Lane - 4/1/17 Chelsea manager Antonio Conte looks dejected Reuters / Dylan Martinez Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details. Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has seen two of his players accept lucrative deals from the Chinese Super League. (Source: Reuters)

Coach Antonio Conte hopes he has seen the last of the Chelsea exodus to the lucrative Chinese Super League.

Midfielder John Obi Mikel followed hot on the heels of Brazilian playmaker Oscar’s big-money move to Shanghai SIPG when he joined Tianjin TEDA on Friday.

Although neither were key players in Conte’s squad this season, the Chelsea coach does not want any more of his players following them.

“I hope this offer from China finishes with Mikel and Oscar,” Conte said Friday. ‘I think that it’s important now to remain with this squad.”

The Italian, who took charge this season, hinted at bringing in reinforcements in the January transfer window but said the Premier League leader is “not close” to recruiting anyone yet.

He has, however, ruled out bringing in a center back with France defender Kurt Zouma available again following a long-term knee injury.

“I don’t think we need another central defender,” Conte said.

Zouma will start Sunday’s FA Cup third round match against third-tier Peterborough at Stamford Bridge, as will Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi, who has been given limited opportunities since his move from Marseille in the summer.

“I have a good opportunity in this game to see Michy from the start,” Conte said. “I think it’s important. He’s working a lot. I’m seeing that he’s improving. Sunday for him, but also for other players, could be a good opportunity to show me that he deserves to play more.”

Chelsea’s run of 13 consecutive league wins ended with a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham on Wednesday and Italian Conte wants a quick response.

“One defeat is enough for us now. In every game our mentality must be that we have to try to win every game,” he said. “FA Cup or league (it) doesn’t change. I want always the same mentality, the right mentality, a winning mentality.”

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