Antonio Conte’s first season as Chelsea manager has been stellar. But he has no intention of resting on his laurels.
The Italian is currently in talks with the club over how best to progress the team. And, as reported by The Times, lavish spending in the transfer market is required.
The dual threats that he believes face his team are Champions League football and the risk of losing frontline players come the summer. Thibaut Courtois and Diego Costa could both be set to leave this summer if reports are to be believed, and neither will be replaced cheaply. Even while remaining cognisant of such challenges, Conte’s transfer demands are incredible. How much is he asking for? A jaw-dropping £200 million.
Chelsea have already been loosely linked with Torino striker Andrea Belotti, whose stock rises with every passing week. Indeed, just last week the Torino president put his value at €150m. Such a valuation seems fanciful, but it’s plain for all to see that quality costs cash in modern day European football.
In addition, Chelsea will compete in the Champions League next year, and, as evidenced by the exploits of Manchester City and Tottenham this year, those extra games come with a cost. A larger squad will certainly be of paramount importance for Chelsea should they hope to be competitive both domestically and in Europe next season.
Conte knows this as well as anyone. 2015 saw him steer Juventus to the Champions League final while concurrently retaining their Serie A title. He clearly feels similar exploits are within his grasp at Chelsea next season, but at a cost.
Despite his impressive CV to date, Conte is yet to win the Champions League, a trophy towards which he now focuses his fiery passion. Indeed, while he is thought to be perfectly happy in London, he has courted interest from Inter Milan, who would be more than willing to make Conte’s desired transfer funds available.
Such a departure is of course unlikely, as Conte is a man that typically gets what he wants. And a Champions League medal appears very high on his list of priorities.
Colm Egan, Pundit Arena