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Conte On Stoke Visit, Top 4 Target; Hazard, Courtois Exit Talks

Conte On Stoke Visit, Top 4 Target; Hazard, Courtois Exit Talks

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has hinted that he will be making some changes to his starting line-up when his side host Stoke City at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday.

Third-placed Chelsea are unbeaten in their last three league matches, keeping clean sheets in the process and the Blues boss adds that finishing in the top four would be a successful season.


“There is no news. All the players are available. The same players from the last game are available. Musonda and David Luiz are improving a lot, their recovery is very close. I’m not sure about the next game but for sure against Norwich they will be available,” Conte said during his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“We must go game by game and it’s normal when you play every few days to make rotation and give some rest to those who have been playing every game. At the same time, all my players deserve credit, I trust in all of my players and it doesn’t matter if there are changes to the starting 11.

Zenith Ziva

“Tomorrow we have a difficult game. As you’ll remember well last season we suffered a lot to beat them at home. We must pay great attention.

“In this league to finish in the top four is always a success. This is the only league with six top teams fighting for the title every season.

“There are only four places for the Champions League and two for the Europa League, so you have to fight. When your competitor is doing so well, like Man City, it’s difficult to fight for the title until the end, but we must give everything, try to get three points in every game and improve our work.”

Conte also insisted that contract talks involving Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard with Chelsea should remain a private matter after reports emerged that the Belgian pair were set to leave next summer.

Hazard has two-and-a-half years left on his existing deal at Stamford Bridge, though Chelsea are trying to tie him down to an improved contract amid interest from Real Madrid and Manchester United.

“My answer is always the same,” Conte replied on the future of the duo during his pre-match conference on Friday.

“This is a private conversation between the club and the player and the agent of the player.

“I give the same speech for Eden as for [Courtois]. I’m proud to have him in my team, my squad, I’m very happy to work with him.

“He’s a really good guy and he has a lot of space for improvement to become one of the best players in the world.

“But on this issue it must be a private conversation between the player and the club.”

“My only hope is to continue to train him because I’m very happy for with his commitment, his behaviour and the atmosphere he has created with the three goalkeepers and the two goalkeeper coaches. I want to continue to see this situation for many years.”

With the transfer window set to open next Monday, Conte also suggested a player could at the club.

“I think this window could be important if we are able to find the right players, otherwise we continue to work with these players and I’m very happy to work with them.”

“For sure, the club will try to do their best in the market to improve the squad from a numerical aspect. I’m a coach, I have to work with my players and my task is on the pitch. The transfer market is for the club and they must decide if they want to improve my squad.”

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