Signing defenders is hard in a 'crazy' market - Conte

The Italian can count on only four experienced defenders in his squad, but anticipates difficulty signing reinforcements owing to the inflation of the transfer window

Antonio Conte has declared that bolstering Chelsea's defensive ranks will be his main priority ahead of the Premier League transfer window deadline, but lamented how 'crazy' the market is.

Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Cesar Azpilicueta are the only experienced defenders within Conte's squad at present.

Conte has been targetting new defenders all summer given youngsters Matt Miazga, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ola Aina are among those providing back-up.

The situation is critical given Kurt Zouma is a long-term absentee after sustaining a ligament injury in February, though the club have so far failed to lure the likes of Leonardo Bonucci or Kalidou Koulibaly to Stamford Bridge.

"If you look now at the Chelsea squad you can see we have only four defenders, and these four defenders started today," Conte told reporters after Chelsea's 2-1 win at Watford. "[But] if [we have] one injury we are in trouble. 

"The club and me we know this and we are talking every day to improve the squad but we know also that it's very difficult in this market because it's crazy. 

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"I don't want to buy just to buy, I want to buy the right player for Chelsea, for the present, for the future, with a good prospect. It's important we have a good investment for the future."

One player Conte is keen to hold onto is Cesc Fabregas, despite reports linking the midfielder with a return to Spain.

Fabregas started on the bench once again at Vicarage Road, the 29-year-old coming on for his first appearance of the season and setting up Diego Costa's winning goal.

"We all know Cesc, he's a great player with great technique and with a good pass and good assist," Conte added.

"I'm pleased, I'm pleased for Cesc because he's working very hard in training sessions to show me that he deserves to play. 

"It's important because I want to see this, all the players show me that they deserve to start the game and if they show the right commitment I'm a very happy manager.

"When you have many players that think for the team not themselves, it's important and I see this situation happening in Chelsea and it's good."