Antonio Conte will not countenance selling any players unless there are replacements brought in the Chelsea manager said on Tuesday.
The 48-year-old Italian’s comments may not be music to Brazil central defender David Luiz’s ears as he has played just once since October, although Conte has insisted it is not because of a falling out but due to a knee injury.
Conte has complained this season of having too small a squad for the additional challenge posed by the Champions League as Chelsea’s defence of their Premier League title has been swept aside by Manchester City’s stunning form.
Chelsea go into Wednesday’s clash with Arsenal in third spot but could kick off 17 points behind City if the latter beat Watford on Tuesday evening.
“Our squad is not big,” said Conte at his eve of match press conference.
“For this reason I think it’s impossible to send on loan one player or to sell one player, if we don’t take another player.”
Conte would not speak specifically about Luiz, who could return to the side for the FA Cup clash with second tier Norwich City on Saturday but is no longer first choice in the Premier Leaguer as Andreas Christensen has replaced him.
“I’m very happy to work with these players, I trust these players. I don’t see a problem,” said Conte.
“At the same time I understand if some players are not playing with regularity and want to play with regularity.”
Conte, whose hard training methods are said to have alienated some players, says his role in transfers is limited to making suggestions to director Marina Granovskaia.
“My expectations can be a lot, or not,” said Conte.
“But the most important thing is my opinion. I try to give my opinion to the club and then the club has to take the best decision for the team.
“I’m only a coach. My main task is to work on the pitch with my players. If the club decide to ask me something about my team, I try to give my opinion.”