Conte denies snubbing Barkley

Antonio Conte has hit out at “ridiculous” reports he turned off his phone when Ross Barkley wanted to speak to him over a possible transfer to Chelsea.

Antonio Conte receives his Special Achievement award at the GQ Men of the Year Awards 2017 at the Tate Modern, London.

Everton midfielder Barkley’s move to Stamford Bridge broke down on transfer deadline day, with conflicting information emerging over the reasons.

Barkley was reported to have changed his mind on the €40m Chelsea switch, but Conte rubbished claims that a lack of personal contact played any part in the England player’s U-turn.

Chelsea missed out on Fernando Llorente, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Barkley on deadline day, but Conte insists the Blues’ performance in the transfer window can only be judged at the end of the season.

“First of all I want to tell you that I don’t like to speak about players of other teams, because I think it’s a lack of respect,” said Conte.

“But about this issue [Barkley] I think it’s ridiculous what I read, so I stop. It’s ridiculous.

“I think the club tried to do its best in the transfer market. Sometimes you’re able to buy, sometimes you’re not, for many reasons. But I think the club tried to do its best during the transfer market.”

Asked to rate Chelsea’s transfer window business, Conte replied: “This question is very difficult to answer. I think we have to wait until the end of the season and we’ll see.”

Fenerbahce have been linked with a move for exiled striker Diego Costa this week, though the Turkish club have completed a loan deal for Tottenham frontman Vincent Janssen.

When quizzed on Costa, Conte replied: “No news about him; my focus is on English football, not Turkey.

“I think when you are a manager and a coach you must be prepared to face every situation.

“Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s difficult. But every manager has great experience to face these kinds of situations.”

Defending Chelsea’s transfer business again, Conte insisted the Blues must put missing out on several targets behind them.

Asked if he was surprised two England players in Oxlade-Chamberlain and Barkley rejected Chelsea, Conte replied: “Yes, but don’t forget that one English player signed in Drinkwater.

“If I don’t make a mistake, he’s an English player, so we’re happy with that. We are happy with him.

“But, I repeat, now it’s not important to look in the past because the past is the past. We have to be focused on the present and the present is this. We are happy.”

Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante could link up against their old club, while Eden Hazard is able to make his first Blues appearance of the season.

Leicester could include new signing Aleksandar Dragovic but Adrien Silva remains in limbo, having been unable to train with Craig Shakespeare’s squad as the club continue to look for a resolution to his future.

It has been a week since Leicester thought they had signed the Portugal midfielder from Sporting Lisbon in a €24m deal but Fifa have refused the player’s registration as they did not receive the paperwork in time, with the Foxes missing the deadline by just 14 seconds.

Sporting insist the deal is binding but the uncertainty currently leaves Silva in limbo, unable to play and even unable to train with Leicester.

“No he is not training,” said Leicester boss Shakespeare.

“I’ve spoken to him. I feel for the lad. He is not only so keen to come, but the deal was also agreed between the clubs, it is just the finalisation.

“It is World Cup year for the player and he is in limbo. He is a strong character and I am sure he will be fine.

“We are still trying to finalise it, it is still up in the air. It is important to keep a level head.

“I would love the player to be in with us. We need to let those concerned carry on with it. Hopefully when I am told the player is ours and he can train with us, we will welcome him with open arms.”


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