Conte bristles at Matic talk: ‘Ask the club about this’

Date published: Saturday 5th August 2017 10:50

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has hinted that he was not in agreement with the £40m sale of Nemanja Matic to Manchester United.

The Blues sold the midfielder to their title rivals following the sale of Tiemoue Bakayoko as Chelsea continued to reap the financial benefits of their personnel churn.

Conte was asked about Matic when speaking ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield with Arsenal at Wembley.

“You have to ask the club about this,” said Conte, who is without the injured Bakoyoko and Eden Hazard.

“Now for us, it’s very important to try to improve our squad, above all under a numerical aspect. We have a small squad.

“And I think only one player is not enough to improve our team. We need more players with, not at top level like Neymar, more players to improve our squad, to improve our quality.”

There has been speculation Eden Hazard, who is currently out with a broken ankle, could replace Neymar at Barcelona.

Conte, laughing, said: “We are trying to buy the players, not to sell them. Otherwise the number is always less and we are in trouble.

“These are rumours. Eden is very happy to stay with us and to start the new season.”

Pedro could play with a protective face mask following his facial injury sustained against the Gunners in the pre-season friendly in Beijing.

Victor Moses is free to play despite his dismissal in May’s FA Cup final when Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1.

Moses’ ban applies in the Premier League season opener against Burnley on August 12, for which Hazard and Bakayoko will also be out.

Alvaro Morata, Chelsea’s new £58m striker, could be deployed up front with Michy Batshuayi, with Conte insisting pre-season is now over.

“Friendly games ended for us,” Conte said.

“This is an official game. This is the first trophy in this season. This is an important game for us.”

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