Chelsea are thought to be interested in adding a back-up striker in January, with Michy Batshuayi looking for a loan move, but Antonio Conte insists that he’s never requested a move for Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy.
Vardy is undoubtedly Leicester’s most important striker and helped the club win a shock Premier League title in the 2015-16 season under Claudio Ranieri, scoring 24 goals that season.
He faces a race to be fit for his side’s visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday after missing an FA Cup third-round match against Fleetwood Town.
Conte says that while he admires Vardy, the Blues have never approached the striker during his time at Stamford Bridge.
“No, honestly we didn’t speak about him, but I repeat we are talking about a really good player,” Conte told reporters at Cobham Training Centre. “For sure Vardy is a really good player and I don’t like to speak about players of other teams, but in this case we are not talking about transfer market.
“I appreciate a lot this player because he is a really good player, Vardy. He played for the national team and is scoring with regularity in this league and is a good player, but this different — I am talking about him because you ask me and not the transfer market.”
Chelsea are looking at options to loan Charly Musonda but have been reluctant to loan Kenedy, who has not had much game time but is operating as a back-up to Marcos Alonso at left wing-back.
Conte says Chelsea may consider promoting an academy player to allow Kenedy to go on loan, with Newcastle United interested in adding the Brazilian in January.
“In this case we have two solutions,” Conte added. “If Kenedy goes on loan, we go to take another player or we take a player from the academy. Then the club has to decide which solution the club prefer.”
Conte thinks that the big Premier League teams are aiming to “kill” each other in the transfer market as Manchester City and Manchester United reportedly tussle over Alexis Sanchez.
Sanchez looks set to depart Arsenal in January or over the summer, with only six months remaining on his contract, and it doesn’t look like Chelsea will make an approach, despite Conte’s admiration for the forward.
In terms of net spending, Chelsea were outdone by both Manchester clubs in the summer transfer window and have only added Ross Barkley for £15 million from Everton this winter, despite Diego Costa’s £59m move to Atletico Madrid.
“I understand that the other teams try to kill the other teams and to anticipate the situation and this is the real transfer market, not to wait until the last moment to buy the players,” he said.
“If you anticipate the transfer market you become stronger and you make the other team weak, and I have great respect for the plan of the others because everyone is trying to kill you.”