LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says he is not satisfied with the depth of his squad, a week ahead of the defence of the Premier League title won in May.
“It’s very important to try to improve our squad, we have a small squad,” he told a news conference ahead of Sunday’s
Community Shield match against FA Cup holders Arsenal at Wembley.
“I think only one player is not enough to improve our team. We need more players, not at top level like Neymar, more players to improve our quality.”
Conte, who took the title to Stamford Bridge in his first season, has so far signed four players: defender Antonio Rudiger from Roma, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko (Monaco) and striker Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), plus back-up goalkeeper Willy Caballero (Manchester City).
Chelsea have lost former captain John Terry to Championship (second tier) club Aston Villa and Nemanja Matic to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, as well as a number of squad players.
They have a net spend estimated at only 22 million pounds, compared to Arsenal’s £43 million, Manchester City’s £182 million and United’s £136 million.
The chances of striker Diego Costa staying at the club diminished further this week when reports in Spain quoted Costa’s lawyer as saying the player would formally ask for a transfer.
Costa has claimed that the manager only told him by text message in June that he no longer figures in Chelsea’s plans, but a Chelsea spokesman described that as “nonsense” on Friday, adding that the player and his agent knew in January that he would be allowed to leave.
The record signing of Morata makes it less likely that the volatile Costa will play.
Conte said of Sunday’s traditional Wembley meeting between the champions and FA Cup winners: “This is the first trophy of the season. It’s an important game. We want to play a good game with good intensity.”
Arsenal beat their London rivals 2-1 in the FA Cup final in May, to deny them a League and Cup double.
In the opening Premier league games next weekend Arsenal are at home to Leicester City and Chelsea play Burnley.
Reporting by Steve Tongue; Editing by Andrew Bolton