Thursday, August 17, 2017

Conte laughs off Hazard to Barcelona talk

SoccerNews in La Liga 28 Jul 2017

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has brushed off suggestions that Eden Hazard could move to Barcelona in the transfer window.

The Belgium star is rumoured to be a target for Ernesto Valverde’s side as they prepare for the possibility that Neymar could leave for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222million deal.

Conte, however, insists that Hazard is happy at Stamford Bridge.

“I don’t know anything about this situation,” he told a news conference when asked about the reports. 

“In the past, I’ve read a lot about Hazard to Real Madrid and now Barca!. I think he is very happy to stay with us and play for Chelsea.”

Hazard returned to team training this week after spending more than a month on the sidelines following surgery on a broken ankle.

Conte is confident that the 26-year-old’s recovery is on track but he does not expect either Hazard or new signing Tiemoue Bakayoko to be available to face Inter in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.

“It is difficult to tell this because it is not easy to program exactly when you can come back after such an injury and a surgery,” he said.

“His recovery is going very well. Yes, I want him to be 100 per cent fit. Every player must be in his best condition to play or it will be a damage to the team. 

“Bakayoko also the same. He needs to recover and train with us.”

Bakayoko is one of four signings made by Conte during the transfer window, joining Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger and Willy Caballero in moving to the Premier League champions.

But Conte says his business in the market is not necessarily finished, with speculation over a move for Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches beginning to build.

“My club knows very well which are the areas I want to strengthen,” he said. “If this is possible, it is okay. Otherwise I will continue with what I have.”

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