Cesar Azpilicueta has strongly backed his manager Antonio Conte in calling for more signings so Chelsea can challenge for the title this season, pointing to the difficulty from failing to kick on in their last title defence in 2015-16.
The defending champions sensationally lost 3-2 at home to Burnley in their opening game of the new campaign, after a mixture of injuries, suspensions and sales meant the Italian had to include five players with just two Premier League appearances between them in his match-day squad.
Chelsea have meanwhile let 11 players go since January, while only bringing four in, and club sources say it has started to affect the mood of the existing squad and “got into their heads” that they need to buy if they are to replicate last season’s form.
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That was reflected by Azpilicueta’s post-game comments.
“Well when you see the players we lost, and the players we have signed in, they are not the same,” he said after Saturday’s Stamford Bridge defeat. “Obviously we have very good young players, but we have to know the reality that being champions is even harder the next season, we have experience of that. So we need players, also for the development of the young players, they need help from senior players, from top players, not to rush them in a position where maybe they are not ready to go at the moment but they will be in the future.
“So it is something that the club is working on with the manager, and hopefully we can get new signings in the next few weeks.”
Conte himself meanwhile merely commented that “the club is trying to do their best in the transfer market…the club is doing the work”. The Italian wants at the very least four more players – a midfielder, an attacker and two wing-backs. Chelsea are at least likely to press on with their interest in Leicester City’s Danny Drinkwater this week.
Azpilicueta meanwhile praised the impact of debutant Alvaro Morata, who he said he knew would be “a great signing”. The Spanish striker scored once and set up David Luiz for another against Burnley.
“Yeah, I think obviously for a striker to get a goal and an assist was good, he was showing great strength up front and movement,” Conte added. “I knew that Alvaro was a great signing, and at least he has got that pressure off, and now he will keep going.”