Blues boss Antonio Conte has spoken out over Chelsea’s failed deadline-day moves for Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
In a press conference held on Friday, the 48-year-old was repeatedly grilled about his transfer window activity by the waiting media. Everton’s Barkley – who was strongly linked to the Blues during the summer but ultimately performed a u-turn on the move at the last minute – was predictably the focal point of many questions.
Although the Italian said he “didn’t like to speak about players of other teams”, he eventually went some way to address the situation as reporters continued to push the Blues boss on rumours and speculation surrounding the Barkley fiasco.
Phone Call Rumours ‘Ridiculous’
Some reports had earlier suggested that the £35 million deal collapsed at the 11th hour because Conte was unable to take the midfielder’s call, but the 48-year-old slammed such rumours as being “ridiculous”, before comparing the situation to his time in Serie A – and taking a thinly veiled shot at the England international in the process.
“When you stay at Juventus and every single player wants to come, they arrive whether they speak or not to the head coach. If a player has great desire to play for a great club, he signs,” Conte insisted. “But when I was at Juventus, players signed for Juventus. Not for the manager.”
While no doubt primarily aimed at Barkley, Conte’s comments come after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – another primary target who eventually signed for Liverpool – told The Times that the opportunity to play under Jurgen Klopp was the main reason for him leaving Arsenal for Merseyside rather than West London.
Klopp vs. Conte?
“Having been someone on the outside looking in, I couldn’t help but notice what the manager is doing here, and wondering what it would be like to play for a character like that, the England midfielder is quoted as saying. “He’s very inspirational, passionate, involved and intense. I felt that was something that could gee me up.”
While Conte may have been stung by the 24-year-old’s comments, he denied the transfer window had been a frustrating one on the whole. He added that fans will “have to wait to the end of the season” to see whether his dealings – which included moves for Danny Drinkwater and Davide Zappacosta – were successful or not.
Header image by Clément Bucco-Lechat (CC BY-SA 3.0)