Chelsea need replacements before selling any players, says Antonio Conte

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Antonio Conte will not countenance selling any players unless there are replacements brought in the Chelsea manager said on Tuesday.

The 48-year-old Italian’s comments may not be music to Brazil central defender David Luiz’s ears as he has played just once since October, although Conte has insisted it is not because of a falling out but due to a knee injury.

Conte has complained this season of having too small a squad for the additional challenge posed by the Champions League as Chelsea’s defence of their Premier League title has been swept aside by Manchester City’s stunning form.

Chelsea go into Wednesday’s clash with Arsenal in third spot but could kick off 17 points behind City if the latter beat Watford on Tuesday evening.

“Our squad is not big,” said Conte at his eve of match press conference.

“For this reason I think it’s impossible to send on loan one player or to sell one player, if we don’t take another player.”

Conte would not speak specifically about Luiz, who could return to the side for the FA Cup clash with second tier Norwich City on Saturday but is no longer first choice in the Premier Leaguer as Andreas Christensen has replaced him.

“I’m very happy to work with these players, I trust these players. I don’t see a problem,” said Conte.

“At the same time I understand if some players are not playing with regularity and want to play with regularity.”

Conte, whose hard training methods are said to have alienated some players, says his role in transfers is limited to making suggestions to director Marina Granovskaia.

“My expectations can be a lot, or not,” said Conte.

“But the most important thing is my opinion. I try to give my opinion to the club and then the club has to take the best decision for the team.

“I’m only a coach. My main task is to work on the pitch with my players. If the club decide to ask me something about my team, I try to give my opinion.”

Provided by AFP Sport

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Jose Mourinho hints Man United might go shopping in January transfer window

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Jose Mourinho has hinted Manchester United may be in active in the January transfer market after all following a spate of injuries.

The Portuguese was missing a host of players for the New Year’s Day win over Everton, including strikers Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Ashley Young also beginning a three-game suspension to further limit his options.

Only last week Mourinho had admitted it was unlikely there would be any incomings at Old Trafford this month but a stretched squad appears to have altered his stance.

“We will compete always, we competed and we didn’t have I think nine players,” he said.

“Nine players were not here. I always say that I like my guys very, very much. We have a fantastic relationship, we give our best, we try to do well always and when we don’t we stick together and fight.

“If somebody comes, welcome, if nobody is coming we are going to fight with the players we have.

“I had not one more player to select, even Chris Smalling was on the bench but he could only play in an emergency situation.”

Anthony Martial, playing up front due to the absence of Lukaku and Ibrahimovic, and Jesse Lingard were both on target in the second half at Goodison Park – the latter scoring for the 10th time this season, seven of which have come in his last nine games.

It is a significant total for a player who managed only half of that across all of last term and further evidence that, shortly after turning 25, Lingard is coming of age as a United player.

Yet the England international has revealed his goals target for the campaign was greater than just simply getting to double figures. 

“I have still got a target in mind and I’m working towards that,” he told MUTV. “I just want to assist and score goals to help the team – it’s good for me and that’s my aim.

“(The target) is secret! But I’m working towards it and I’ll keep working hard to help the team. It’s always good for us to score as attacking players and to help the team get the three points.”

A clean sheet for United meant Everton have now scored just once in their previous four games.

Toffees boss Sam Allardyce is desperate to recruit a new striker this month and is still hopeful a deal for Besiktas’ Turkish international Cenk Tosun will materialise.

“Our deal is in, our deal is there, it’s up to them whether they accept our deal or not,” Allardyce said.

“We’ve done all we can. I would presume we will know in the next 24 hours whether we’ve been successful or not.

“Obviously we need a bigger goalscoring threat than we’ve got at the moment. That may help us in many ways to achieve more results and certainly will if whoever we get scores goals.

“I can’t guarantee whoever we get in is going to score goals straight away, I just hope he does when we do.”​

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Kepa set for Real Madrid and other potential January signings for Europe's elite clubs

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Liverpool‘s £75 million ($100 million) splurge on Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk indicated that the English Premier League will again be where most money is spent in the January transfer window.

But some of Europe’s top clubs will be active this month looking to strengthen their squads for the run-in.

AFP Sport looks at what to expect in the continent’s biggest leagues after the window opened on Monday.

SPAIN: KEPA SET FOR MADRID

La Liga leaders Barcelona could say they already have their big January signing with Ousmane Dembele close to a return having injured himself shortly after his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund at the start of the season.

That will not stop speculation that the Catalans will go back in for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho after failing in their bid to sign the Brazilian in the summer.

But strengthening at the back might be of more immediate importance with Javier Mascherano set to depart.

A move for the giant Colombian Yerry Mina of Palmeiras could be completed imminently.

Atletico Madrid can finally register new players with a FIFA-imposed ban now having ended. That means Diego Costa and Vitolo can make their debuts after agreeing deals to move to the Wanda Metropolitano from Chelsea and Sevilla respectively in the summer.

Real Madrid are likely to make moves too. But if there is to be only one signing it should be that of Kepa Arrizabalaga, the Athletic Bilbao and Spain goalkeeper.

The 23-year-old’s contract expires in June, but Madrid could pay his 20 million-euro buyout clause to get him now.

Madrid could splash the cash in January to secure Kepa's signature.

ITALY: SALES AT MILAN?

Juventus could splash some cash as they chase league leaders Napoli and they have been linked with a move for Liverpool’s Germany midfielder Emre Can.

“We know that he is a good player and a good opportunity but nothing more,” Juve CEO Beppe Marotta told Premium Sport on Saturday.

Already out of the Champions League, Napoli are desperate to win a first Serie A title since 1990.

They want to reinforce their attack this month, and have been linked with a 25 million-euro move for the Bologna striker Simone Verdi.

There could be sales at AC Milan, who are in financial difficulty and struggling in mid-table.

Most headlines, though, currently surround the future of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has been linked with a move away but said on Saturday that he was “happy” at San Siro.

The window in Italy opens on Wednesday.

Donnarumma is one AC Milan player linked with a move away from the club.

GERMANY: GORETZKA BAYERN-BOUND

Bayern Munich are on course for another Bundesliga title. They are top, 11 points clear of Schalke, at the season’s halfway stage. And they are set to add insult to injury for their rivals by making a move for Schalke star Leon Goretzka.

The 22-year-old German international is out of contract at the end of the season and Sport Bild reported on Sunday that he would sign a pre-contract agreement this month to move to Bavaria in the summer.

There is likely to be movement at Borussia Dortmund, with Andre Schuerrle being linked with West Ham United.

They will also have to deal with inevitable speculation as to the future of star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is under contract until 2021.

Goretzka seems to be the latest Bungesliga star on the way to Bayern.

FRANCE: PSG TO TRIM SQUAD

There will almost certainly be departures from Paris Saint-Germain as they look to raise funds to comply with financial fair play.

Javier Pastore is reportedly keen to leave to boost his chances of making the Argentina squad for the World Cup and could be Italy-bound.

The out-of-favour Lucas Moura will depart too, while PSG are also hoping to bring in a midfielder, although they look to have missed out on the Brazilian Wendel, who is set to join Sporting Lisbon from Fluminense.

Elsewhere, Monaco will trim their squad, and English clubs could come back in for Thomas Lemar, the target of huge bids from Liverpool and Arsenal in the summer.

Moura is another PSG attacker who could make way in January.

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