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Published in Football Transfers
Tuesday, 26 December 2017 08:38

The Blues boss has signalled that his word will be listened to as his club await the opening of the winter market

Antonio Conte says that Chelsea's transfer chiefs and him will jointly decide how the club's money is spent in January transfer market.

Everton recently frustrated Chelsea in a 0-0 draw at Goodison Park in the Premier League, with Manchester City's lead now looking untouchable, as their points gap reaches double figures.

Chelsea are thought to be interested in a number of players including Alex Sandro, Virgil van Dijk and Thomas Lemar ahead of the transfer window opening. Conte says that he will have his say but remained tight lipped on which players might come in at Stamford Bridge.

"I give my opinion when I speak with my club but the club always has the last word," Conte said in Merseyside. "Like in the summer and it will be the same in January and then we divide the responsibility between me and the club. Not only me, not only the club, but together.

"I am very happy to work with my players, then if the squad is big enough to play in all the competitions? Only time will tell this. If we have to work as we are in the Champions League, semi final of the Carabao Cup and we are fighting for the best position in the league. I think we are doing a really good job with my players."

Chelsea will be conducting their transfer business without Michael Emenalo after he left the role of technical director at the club to work at AS Monaco.

The club have yet to replace him with current staff picking up on his role in identifying targets. Meanwhile, Chelsea's game on Saturday was overshadowed by Barcelona's 3-0 win away to Real Madrid in 'El Clasico'.

Conte acknowledged that Barcelona's win was impressive but he says he won't use the game to measure up his team against Valverde's side, who they face in the next round of the Champions League.

"After every game it can change. Real Madrid plays in another way and I can’t compare Madrid’s style with our style. It is two different systems, two different ways to play the game.

"I think that we have to analyse more the games that they are playing against teams that are playing with our system."

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    Antonio Conte has provided a fine template that England can follow for success, writes Marcus Foley.

    Antonio Conte's stewardship of Chelsea has been a revelation this season. However, it may have been so different. Two bookmakers suspended betting on the Italian being sacked back in October.
    The Blues had four wins, one draw and two losses after seven games. For six of those games, Conte’s men had operated with a back four. Halfway through their 3-0 mauling at Arsenal, the Italian switched to a three.

    At the start of the international break, Chelsea were 10 points clear at the top, with a record of 22 wins, three draws and three losses from 28 games. That switch has been transformative.


    The main premise behind this is that there is an area of weakness in any tactical system. Tactical innovators will spot this early, devise an alternative system that exploits that weakness thus producing a competitive advantage until other sides catch up. Tactics, shapes and formations therefore are relatively fluid beasts.
    Alternatively, a coach – particularly at international level but also one with a restricted budget – may adapt their given or preferred formation to suit the personnel available to them, as explained by Jonathan Wilson. Conte, having coached Italy for two years prior to joining Chelsea, was well-versed in adapting to the players at his disposal.

    Hindsight provides clarity but the decision to play a back three was the logical choice to get the best out of a team that contained David Luiz.


    A combination of the above means that a back three is the current fashionable formation. And this is a good thing for England.

    Broadly speaking, England have some similar personnel to Chelsea.

    Gary Cahill and Michael Keane/Phil Jones/Chris Smalling represent the pure defensive element of a three – solid, reliable; defenders first, creators second. Given that Cahill was England captain in the absence of Rooney for the Germany game it can be assumed that he is Gareth Southgate's preferred centre-half.
    John Stones, meanwhile, has his critics but there is no denying that he a player of huge potential. His decision making can be suspect but having Cahill and, say, the impressive Keane - given he started both games during the international break - either side offers a further layer of protection.

    It is no coincidence that David Luiz, previously derided on these shores, has emerged as one of Chelsea’s players of the season. The inclusion of a player such as the Brazilian or Stones in any side offers the ability to carry the ball forward and set attacks in motion from deep.

    What can represent a weakness in a four – a willingness to take risks – becomes a strength in the three: the risk/return ratio is more balanced with the two additional defenders alongside the libero-style defender.


    N’Golo Kante is a unique player. His presence alongside Nemanja Matic has given Chelsea’s creative players untold freedom of expression.However, in Jordan Henderson, England have a player capable of fulfilling the Kante role; a claim that is not as hyperbolic as it might seem.

    The former Sunderland man has made 88 successful tackles to the France international’s 101 this season. Considering that Henderson has played three games fewer than Kante, economy-wise they are not actually that far apart. The Liverpool captain’s total has come in 24 appearances at a rate of 3.6 per game, while Kante makes 3.7 successful tackles over the course of 90 minutes.

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