Antonio Conte: “Four players left in January – four important players for Tottenham. Two arrived
Antonio Conte says it was a difficult transfer window for Tottenham in January, but understands that the club’s priority is to find and develop young players.
After losing business to Adama Traore and Luis Diaz, Spurs only brought in Juventus duo Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur on Deadline Day.
On the same day, Conte saw the club’s two most expensive players – Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso – go out on loan, with Dele Alli joining Everton for £40m and Bryan Gil heading to Valencia less than six months after his arrival from £25 million from Sevilla.
However, the Spurs manager says he understands the club’s vision is to develop young players rather than buy proven experience.
In an interview with Sky Italy, Conte said: “Four players left in January – four important players for Tottenham. Two arrived, so even numerically, instead of strengthening yourself, you may have, on paper, weakened.
“Later, precise choices were made for many reasons, but I certainly never expected that in January four players that I still considered important would change shirts for a thousand reasons. This shows the difficulty.”
Conte was backed up with ready-made signings from Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan, but says he now knows that won’t be the case for Spurs.
“It is inevitable that in January it will be very difficult to sign two players like Bentancur and Kulusevski who, I repeat, are the ideal prospects for Tottenham,” he said.
“Tottenham are looking for young players, players to be developed, not ready players. That’s the vision, the philosophy of the club.
“It’s inevitable that if you want to grow faster and if you want to be competitive faster, you need players with a lot of experience, because they also lead to an increase in experience in your team.
“But again, the vision of the club that I understood is this and it will continue to be. For this reason, it will take a lot of patience and I continue to explain it to the whole environment and the fans.”
Conte: Lack of confidence behind recent Spurs mistakes
Conte’s stint with Spurs began with a run of just one defeat in 11 games, but he has since lost five of his last eight, while recent defeats to Southampton and Wolves have been partly the result of defensive errors by the Londoners.
The coach suggested mistakes are being made out of a lack of confidence and compared the situation to his 2019 arrival at Inter Milan, who had not won a trophy in nearly a decade at the time.
“It’s always hard to make comparisons, but certainly when you take the job on a team that hasn’t won in a long time, it’s inevitable that you lose confidence,” Conte said.
“Confidence drops and often at the first hurdle you throw yourself down and often the negativity builds up even more. Sometimes you give goals that you struggle to accept.
“This has been happening to us in the last period. This is part of a process of a team that has to grow a lot to try to be competitive.
“Right now we are one of the many teams that are in the middle. They need to work a lot and that doesn’t scare me at all.
“It’s inevitable that certainly the situation compared to the past for me is very different in terms of perspectives, ambitions, in terms of fighting to win. I realized it’s a totally different situation anyway.”
Is history repeating itself with Conte?
Sky Sports’ Joe Shread
Antonio Conte’s suggestion that Tottenham actually weakened their team last month through their transfer negotiations might come as a surprise, as they’ve gotten the exciting Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur from Italian giants Juventus, while the team’s four players main players who left the club were far from regular starters under the manager.
But when you look at Conte’s history, it’s clear that he’s not afraid to speak out against his club on the subject of transfers, and that this is something that has caused friction between him and his payers in the past.
At Chelsea, Conte wanted to capitalize on his impressive Premier League title in his first season in charge, signing Romelu Lukaku, Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
But when the players who arrived were Álvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater and Davide Zappacosta, the Italian chose to make it very clear that he was not the one behind these signings, saying: “Since the summer, the club has decided each player who come here. I certainly don’t have a big impact on the transfer market.”
Conte’s statement that Spurs need “players with a lot of experience” if they want to “grow faster” will also send a signal to Chelsea fans. The manager’s last transfer window at Stamford Bridge in January 2018 turned into a month-long pursuit of a variety of veteran strikers in a bid to find an old head to provide reliable backup for Morata.
In no particular order, Conte wanted Fernando Llorente, Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez, before ending up with Olivier Giroud. But despite eventually getting a striker to satisfy their manager’s demands, Chelsea grew increasingly frustrated by Conte’s public grumbling and it was no surprise that he was replaced late in the campaign after a season of discontent.