Journalist reveals first-choice targets Conte didn’t get

Date published: Wednesday 21st December 2016 11:29 - Matthew Stead

Antonio Conte “didn’t get any of his first-choice signings” this summer at Chelsea, according to leading journalist Rory Smith.

Conte was appointed Blues manager in the summer, and oversaw investment of well over £100million in his first transfer window.

Michy Batshuayi was their most expensive buy at £33m, followed by N’Golo Kante and David Luiz, who both cost £30m, and Marcos Alonso, who was signed from Fiorentina for £23m.

Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace represented their 11th successive Premier League win. The record, still held by Arsenal in 2002, stands at 14 games.

But talking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Smith, formerly of The Times and now of the New York Times, has praised the Italian for adapting so well despite not landing any of his main transfer targets.

“What’s really impressive about Conte this season is that he didn’t get any of his first-choice signings,” Smith said. “He didn’t get any of the players he really wanted.

“He wanted Radja Nainggolan; he didn’t get him. He wanted Kostas Manolas; he didn’t get him. He wanted Leonardo Bonucci; he didn’t get him.

“He’s adapted, he found second choices, he found players that would fit and would work, and Marcos Alonso is a great example of that.”

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