Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the club need more signings to cope with the added demands of playing in the Champions League and warned his players they will have to work even harder than they did during last season’s title-winning campaign.
Chelsea, who were not in Europe but won the domestic title by seven points in Conte’s first season in charge, have signed four players so far, including striker Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid.
Goalkeeper Willy Caballero joined on a free transfer from Manchester City, with defensive midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and centre-back Antonio Rudiger the other additions.
“I think these are good signings for us,” Conte told Sky Sports on Wednesday. “We solved a lot in this summer, and for this reason it’s very important to try to improve our squad because we have one more competition.
“We have to play Champions League. It’s not easy. It’s very important to try to find the right solution, to try to improve the squad, to improve the quality before (we) start the season.”
Chelsea have sold midfielder Nemanja Matic to Manchester United and Diego Costa is also poised to leave. Conte was reported to have irked the club’s hierarchy when he informed the striker via a text message that he was not in his plans.
British media reported that the text was not appreciated because it weakened Chelsea’s bargaining position after it was made public, but Conte denied there being tension between himself and Roman Abramovich, the club’s owner.
“I think I have for sure a good relationship with the club, with my owner,” he said. “I like to work, I like to work very hard and my owner appreciates a lot this characteristic.”
Chelsea begin their title defence at home against Burnley on Saturday and Conte expects tougher campaign than the one before.
“It won’t be easy to repeat an amazing season like last year,” he said. “Because to finish with 93 points, to finish with 30 wins, it won’t be easy. But for sure we want to try to fight, to fight until the end, to try to retain the title.
“We have to know that only through the work we can improve a lot and that we must work harder than last season … For sure it won’t be easy to win, but we want to try to fight to win something this season.”