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Conte: Missing out on Champions League won't hurt Chelsea's transfer plans

07:10 GMT+3 17/03/2018
Antonio Conte Chelsea
The Chelsea head coach doubts whether missing out on Europe's top competition will hamper the English side in the transfer market

Antonio Conte played down the impact missing out on the Champions League would have on Chelsea's pulling power in the transfer market as his side fight to finish in the Premier League's top four.

Failing to qualify for next season's Champions League is a real possibility for the Blues, who are fifth and four points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool with eight matches remaining in the Premier League, following Wednesday's European exit to Barcelona.

Conte has lamented Chelsea's transfer business throughout the season after claiming the title last term, having missed out on signing Romelu Lukaku – who opted for Manchester United before the start of the campaign – while a move for Roma's Edin Dzeko failed to materialise.

Chelsea did manage to sign Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater and Davide Zappacosta, though star midfielder Nemanja Matic was controversially sold to United, while star duo Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois continue to be linked with Real Madrid.

Asked if failing to qualify for the Champions League for the second time in three seasons would make Chelsea less attractive in the market, Conte – preparing for Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City – told reporters that he didn't think it was an all-important part of the club's dealings.

"Don't forget that two years ago, Chelsea finished 10th with many players of this season, and they decided to continue to play for this club," he told reporters.

"I think this is not a question for me, it's a question for the players."

While Conte doesn't believe that missing out on Champions League play would have a massive impact, he once again made it clear that he was unhappy with the way the market had been handled by his club after winning the title last season. 

"I don't know if it's a problem to attract a great player or not," he said. "If you remember last season we won the title, and then you can see our transfer market.

"I think this is not the most important thing, if you win or stay in the Champions League."

The Chelsea boss also made it clear that the club would still be looking to finish the season in the best way possible, with a top-four position and the FA Cup still up for grabs. 

"We have to try to do both," he said. "To try to go to the next round and to reach the semifinal in the FA Cup. It won't be easy.

"Leicester is a good team. In the last game we played at home [in the Premier League] we suffered against them. Then [we have to] do our best also in the league, to find a place in the Champions League. It won't be easy.

"Every trophy is important for us. We started the season to try to fight until the end for every competition.

"In the Carabao Cup we reached the semifinal, in Champions League the last 16. This is the FA Cup quarterfinal. If we win we can play another semifinal at Wembley. We try to do our best in every competition. This must be our target."