Antonio Conte has revealed Chelsea are in the process of adapting their approach to the transfer market after a frustrating summer.
Despite splashing out more than £60 million on N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi, the Blues have encountered slow progress on other targets, including AC Milan rebuffing their £35m approach for centre-back Alessio Romagnoli.
Conte has reiterated that Chelsea are still willing to spend the big money but that the issue is rival clubs’ reluctancy to do business.
“We didn’t refuse to spend the money for the right targets,” Conte insisted. “The situation is that the target is not available to buy and to spend the money on.
“Then I also told [them] that I’d prefer to spend a lot of money on the right great player, not on a medium player.”
With seemingly little progress on new signings as the window draws to a close and rivals spending more than ever, Conte has suggested the Blues will achieve their goals in other ways.
“We must understand that, now, in England every team has money,” explained the former Juventus boss. “So you have to solve the problem with hard work.
“Sometimes you could solve the problem with money. Now you have to solve the problem with work. But that’s fine. I have no problem. Work is the bread and butter.”
After failing in their pursuit of Roma’s Radja Nainggolan, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and the Rossoneri’s Romagnoli, Conte conceded that the Blues would not usually expect to be knocked back so much.
“Something is changing,” Conte suggested. “It’s very strange, this, but something is changing.”
The former Italy coach also denied that an inability to offer Champions League — or even Europa League — football was dissuading prospective targets.
“No, I don’t think so,” Conte remarked. “It’s logical that different players want to play Champions League. That’s logical, this.
“But Chelsea’s story is better than to play for one season missing Champions League. A great player can come the same, even with no Champions League, because of Chelsea’s story, great cups.”
Conte pointed to the Blues’ recent history and increased fan base as evidence that new signings would still be attracted to move to Stamford Bridge.
“I can speak also about the Abramovich era. In this 13 or 14 years, Chelsea always played in the Champions League,” the Italian pointed out. “Increasing fans all over the world, 44 million fans all over the world.
“Chelsea are not only a great club in England but all over the world. This is important. For this reason, I reply that you can’t play for one season in the Champions League, but at a club like Chelsea you always can [again].”