Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has hinted that the January transfer window could be crucial in determining his future at Stamford Bridge.

In recent weeks, the Italian has heavily implied that the board must act to strengthen his “thin” squad next month, and went one step further today by stating that the Blues’ new year transfer activity will be “important” to their prospects of success this season.

“I am very happy to stay here and to work with these players but I think the transfer window could be important if we are able to find the right players,” the 48-year-old stated in a news conference held earlier today.

Conte, whose status at Chelsea has come under increased speculation in recent weeks, with the Blues lying a distant third in the Premier League table, added: “Otherwise, we will continue to work with these players. I am very happy to work with them and for sure the club is trying to do its best in the transfer market to improve the squad and our numerical aspect.”

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The former Juventus and Italy manager went on to admit that the decision to sign new players was out of his hands in his role of head coach at the Blues, with the board instead being responsible for acting on his urge to sign new players: “I’m a coach; I have to work with my players and my task is on the pitch,” he said. “The transfer market is for the club and they must decide if they want to improve my squad.”

Hazard and Courtois not for sale

The 48-year-old went on to dismiss talk of Belgian stars Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois departing the Bridge, insisting that the pair are not for sale and crucial to the long-term silverware prospects of Chelsea.

“It is important to try and improve your team, to strengthen and not to sell the best players,” he said when pressed on the issue.

Conte was speaking ahead of the Blues’ Premier League fixture with Stoke on Saturday, in which they will have no fresh injury concerns following a hectic festive period.

Header image by @cfcunofficial [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons