Antonio Conte has made it clear that Chelsea were never in the race to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal this month.
Reports emerged on the day of Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Stoke City that Manchester City, in response to Jose Mourinho’s improved offer for Sanchez, had pulled out of the race to sign the Chilean.
And at the same time it was claimed that Chelsea would make a surprise bid to sign him instead, but Conte confirmed soon after that he wasn’t after the 29-year-old.
Speaking ahead of the clash with Arsenal in the Carabao Cup, Conte reiterated that Sanchez had never been on the club’s radar.
“We never were in this race,” he said. “Ever. Especially because one of the reasons was this amount of salary. Only one or two clubs can pay this type of salary.”
“Manchester United and Manchester City stay there and we have to try and build something important to create a basis, and then make success with our work. Not with money. With work.”
Man United have been rightly criticised for failing to match the ambition of their neighbours in the transfer market and their capture of Sanchez only goes some way to addressing the imbalance.
But Chelsea, usually a lethal force in the transfer market, appear to be falling short in certain respects. Conte was clearly furious at the board’s inability to sign Romelu Lukaku and Alex Sandro over the summer, while signings Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko have struggled to deliver on a regular basis.
And he has now resorted to targeting the likes of Andy Carroll, Ashley Barnes and 36-year-old Peter Crouch, which can only be interpreted as a cry for help, a kind of whimper at a perceived lack of financial backing in the modern transfer market.