December 16, 2016 / 4:20 PM / a year ago

Chelsea's Conte concerned by Chinese spending power

LONDON (Reuters) - The enormous spending power of Chinese football is a danger to clubs everywhere, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said on Friday as his midfielder Oscar pondered a reported 52 million pounds transfer to Shanghai SIPG.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League - The Stadium of Light - 14/12/16. Action Images via Reuters / Lee Smith Livepic

The Brazilian is a target for the Chinese Super League club, and has said he is “90 percent certain” to move.

“The Chinese market is a danger for all teams in the world,” Conte told a news conference ahead of Chelsea’s visit to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

”I don’t know the situation (with Oscar) so we have to wait.

“We must concentrate on our work and not think there’s a lot of money and they can take our players.”

Oscar would be in good company should he complete the move to Shanghai, joining a number of other Brazilians who have quit Europe to play in China.

Oscar’s former Chelsea team mate Ramires left Stamford Bridge to sign for Jiangsu Suning for a reported fee of 25 million pounds last January, when compatriot Alex Teixeira joined the same club having looked set to join Liverpool from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Conte, who has led Chelsea to a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League on the back of 10 successive wins, appeared resigned to losing Oscar, who has been unable to find a regular place in the Italian’s side during the winning run.

“Sometimes when there’s a massive offer it’s important to take the best decision for the club, (even if) sometimes the situation can penalise you,” he said.

He thinks that the “opportunity and honour” to play in the Premier League will deter other players from leaving, however much money they can earn elsewhere.

“Players must be very proud to play in this league because it is the best league in the world,” he added.

Chelsea are guaranteed to reach Christmas on top of the table and could have a nine-point lead by the time the three teams immediately behind them -- Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City -- play later this weekend.

If they win at Selhurst Park, they will set a new club record of 11 successive league victories in the same season and be within three wins of Arsenal’s Premier League best, set in 2002.

“I think we are a great surprise for many people,” Conte said of Chelsea’s form a year on from sacking Jose Mourinho when one point off the relegation zone.

”When you try to bring new ideas and methods it’s not easy.

“Six or seven teams can fight for the title and anything can happen.”

Chelsea have conceded only two goals in their 10 successive wins, and Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois has kept the most clean sheets in the Premier League with nine.

“On Saturday we are the first team to play, so we have to show that we can get three points,” the goalkeeper said.

“Then the others are under pressure to win as well.”

Conte said Eden Hazard would be fit to return having missed Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Sunderland.

Reporting by Steve Tongue; Editing by Toby Davis

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