Conte on Luiz, transfers, Courtois & Hazard, his own future and his team selection against Stoke

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Chelsea boss Antonio Conte spoke about a number of issues at a media conference ahead of the game against Stoke. Here’s some of what the Italian had to say.

Conte on the latest team news

“All the players are available. The same players from the last game are available.”

On David Luiz and Charly Musonda

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“I think they are improving a lot. Recovery is very close. I don’t know if for the next game but for sure against Norwich Musonda and Luiz will be available.”

On whether Thibaut Courtous will commit to Chelsea

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“These are private conversations between the agent of the player and the club.

“If you ask me if I hope Courtois stays, for sure because we are talking about the best goalkeeper and a really good guy.

“Thibaut has a contract also for next season with Chelsea. We are talking about one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

“Me and my staff are proud to have him as goalkeeper and we are proud to create this synergy between three fantastic goalkeepers with Thibaut, Caballero and Eduardo.

“We are very happy to have these three players and for sure I hope to keep all the players for next season.

“My hope is to continue to train him because I’m very happy with his commitment, his behaviours and the atmosphere we have created with these three goalkeepers and the two goalkeeper coaches.”

On suggestions Courtois might want to leave for family reasons

“I don’t know about this issue. When you are in a great club and you trust in the project you want to stay and you want to continue to play for this team.

“I think the family is not the problem. But, I repeat, these are private conversations between the agent and the club.”

On Eden Hazard’s father suggesting the player has rejected a new deal

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“My answer is always the same: these are private conversations between the club and the player and the agent of the player.

“I am proud to have him in my team and my squad and feel happy to work with him. He has a lot of space for improvement and to become one of the best players in the world.”

On whether he can give incoming players guarantees over his own future

“First of all, the most important thing is to sign new players. I’m very happy to stay here and work with these players.

“The transfer market could be important if we are able to find the right players. Otherwise, we must continue to work with these players. I am happy to work with them.

“The club will try to do their best in the transfer market to improve the squad and the numerical aspect. I am a coach, I have to work with my players and my task is about (on) the pitch.”

On Baba Rahman

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“He is coming back from a bad injury and he’s struggling a bit to recover the best form.

“I must be honest, I don’t know what will happen with Baba.

“About the human aspect, I’d like to give him the opportunity to come back strong like before, but I think now he has to face the recovery and he’s showing great patience, because he is struggling a lot.

“I don’t know what will happen with Baba, but if I can help him then I am ready to help.

“There is the player aspect and also the human aspect for him. It is good for him to stay here and take the right time to recover.”

On whether next week’s game against Arsenal will be on his mind when he selects his team to face Stoke

“We have a difficult game against Stoke. Last season in the same period we suffered a lot and we struggled to beat them at home. I remember the game really well. We must pay great attention.

“I think we have to go game by game. It’s normal when you play every three days to make rotations and give rests to players that are playing every game. At the same time, I trust all my players.”

On whether a top-four finish would make this a successful season

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“In this league to finish in the top four would always be successful. This is the only league to have six top teams who fight every season for the title. There are only four places for the Champions League and two for the Europa League. You have to fight to qualify for this competition.

“When competitors like Manchester City are doing so well, it is very difficult to fight until the end for the title. At the same time, we have to put ourselves into every game and try to get three points to give satisfaction to our fans.”

On whether there should be a Christmas break in England

“Personally, I am happy to stay here and have this type of Christmas period. To play in the Christmas period is great, not only for me, but for the players. It’s a fantastic atmosphere and I am enjoying a lot this type of situation.

“After this period I would like to have a little period of rest for me and the players – for every team in England, to prepare for the final rush. It could be a good solution to rest a bit.

“After this busy period we have to play every three days and when you do this in the physical and mental aspect as you are a bit tired. From the start of November to the start of Champions League is very difficult.”