Conte on transfer policy, his future, facing Stoke City, Lukaku, and his ‘incredible’ Chelsea star

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was asked about his thoughts on numerous subjects at his pre-match news conference prior to Saturday’s Premier League match against Stoke City. We recap some of what the Italian had to say.

Conte on Stoke and the title race

“To start it is important to beat Stoke. It won’t be easy because it is a really strong, physical team but also with great players with good technique. We must pay great attention and be focused.

“In the game at Stamford Bridge Stoke played very well. We won 4-2 but the game was played very well by both teams. Stoke has a really good team and a good coach.

“Now we need 24 points to win the league and it is important to go game by game without looking forward.

“This league is very tough and any game you can lose. There are 11 games to go and tomorrow we will have a tough test.”

On Eden Hazard and his treatment by Manchester United

“In the first 20-25 minutes I see only for him these type of situations (fouls) and it was impossible for him to play football.

“But I understand that in football there these type of situation. I don’t like this. I always want to face a team who want to beat us by playing football. It is important.

“Eden is showing great football but also showing great character and personality. He is growing a lot in this aspect. It is fantastic, not only for him but also for the team.

“Hazard is a player that is very difficult to stop. For this reason you try to stop him with a good or bad way, but I am not worried because he is very strong physically and is showing me he is able to play in this league. He is not tall but he is strong.”

On Chelsea selling Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku

“It is very difficult to take always the best decision. Sometimes it can happen that you think one thing and in the future it is a different situation. Football is not simple to give always a correct evaluation for all players.

“Sometimes I think that a player last season and two years ago did not play well and then plays a fantastic season.”

On his contract

“It is the same. I told you every week. It is important for me and the players to focus on the present. We have a target and it is important to try to reach this target. For me and the players then we are ready to face every situation.

“But I repeat, I am very happy to be Chelsea’s coach and want to continue this way for many years.”

On reports he is not happy with Chelsea transfer policy

“I don’t understand because it is not true. Honestly I have a good relationship.

“When I need something I speak with the club and we always try to find the right solution – but always together. If we we take the right solution it is very difficult to tell this – but we always take the decision together.”

On leaving youngsters out against United 

“For the young players to stay in the squad of a great team it is always a great motivation.

“Every day I demand and I want to see great motivation from the players. To stay in a great squad like Chelsea is a fantastic opportunity every day to show me that they are improving.

“And don’t forget a lot of young players played in the League Cup and the FA Cup this season.

“We want to try to win and go in the next round and for this reason I try to make the best decision for the team to go into the semi-final and it happened.”

On N’Golo Kante

“We have spoken a lot about him, about his characteristics. He is a fantastic player, a great player.

“For us he is an important player. He is able to cover a lot of ground to win the ball. But he is a young player who can improve a lot. Without the ball he is incredible and he always has a smile on his face. He is great.”