Conte Urges Chelsea to Spend in January Or Risk Falling Further Behind—But Who Would He Sign?

Raheem Sterling's late goal on Sunday saw City beat Huddersfield and retain its eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League, while moving 11 points ahead of Chelsea in third.

After a frustrating summer that saw Conte miss out on his top transfer targets, the Italian coach has warned his employers in west London to act in the new year.

"Manchester City's path is incredible, no? I think Manchester City in this season is a strong team," Conte said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

"Also, last season, Manchester City were a fantastic team. Then, after the transfer market, they bought their first targets and then they have improved a lot.

Antonio Conte Demands Transfer Funds
Antonio Conte at Anfield, Liverpool, November 25. Conte has warned the Chelsea board that it must spend to prevent falling further behind Manchester City. PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty

"They can do this also in January, maybe, and in the future. For this reason, we must be worried because if we want to compete with Manchester City we have to work and make the best decisions in the market."

Chelsea spent more than £150 million in the summer, paying a club-record £60 million for Alvaro Morata, as well as signing Tiemoue Bakayoko, Antonio Rudiger and Danny Drinkwater.

Conte, however, is reported to have been irritated by the club's failure to pursue players that he had asked for. Fernando Llorente ended up joining Tottenham Hotspur instead of Chelsea, Leonardo Bonucci moved from AC Milan to Juventus and Antonio Candreva remained at Inter Milan.

The Chelsea board is said to have been dissuaded by the ages of the trio, as each is aged 30 or older. The club preferred to sign younger players that would likely increase in value.

But Chelsea also missed out on three targets that were aged 26 or younger. Southampton refused to sell Virgil van Dijk, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opted for Liverpool over Chelsea, and Ross Barkley delayed his decision until January, remaining at Everton.

Ross Barkley
Christian Benteke

According to a report in The Mirror earlier this month, Barkley remains firmly on Chelsea's radar, while Conte is also keen on launching a bid for Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke. The Belgian striker is yet to score for Palace this season.

Despite the discord between coach and board at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea has had a positive start to the new season. The champion is third in the Premier League table, in a position to qualify for the Champions League next season, and through to the knockout stages of the competition this year.

Conte's team faces three games in less than a week, now, but all will take place at home. Swansea is the visitor to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday before Rafael Benitez's Newcastle travels to west London on Saturday.

Then, on December 5, Chelsea's plays its last game of the Champions League group stage, facing Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid.