Chelsea: Conte on title; Newcastle captain targeted; Premier League interest in defender

After a convincing 2-0 victory at St Mary’s saw Chelsea go just one point off the top of the table thanks to goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, Blues boss Antonio Conte talked down talk of the club as title contenders as he told the press:

“We know that the road is long but the confidence is increasing. It’s important to get this type of result and performance because, in this way, they can trust more in the work. It’s not important for us to look at the table now. If you ask me a prediction or an expectation of our championship, it’s very difficult to talk about this. It’s important to pass the first part of the season. Then, when you start the second part, our ideas will be more clear.”

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Conte’s team have recovered well from a slip in form, with Conte’s new system making an instant impact with a run of impressive wins showing that they can rival the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool who have set the Premier League alight in the opening weeks of the campaign.

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Despite this, Conte continues to look for additions to his defence, according to the Sun, who claim that an £18 million move for Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles is being weighed up. The former Nottingham Forest central defender has stepped up to the plate of captaincy at St James’ Park, with his commanding displays impressing many with experience belying his young age at just 22-years-old.

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Lascelles is seen as a candidate to provide a long-term replacement for John Terry, alongside the likes of Burnley’s Michael Keane and Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson. With such leadership skills already on display, it seems that Lascelles could be close to the complete package already.

West Ham and Crystal Palace are reported to be two of the clubs to be chasing Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic according to the Express, who believe that Marseille and Inter Milan are the two other clubs hoping to see him stay in Europe despite interest from the Middle East and China as it seems increasingly likely that his lack of game time will see him depart the club on a free transfer in the summer.

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Antonio Conte clearly sees no role for him in his new defensive set up, with him clearly not able to adapt to a role as a wing-back and way down the pecking order as a central defender with John Terry finding it hard to regain his starting spot with Kurt Zouma also nearing a return. Ivanovic’s exit now seems just a matter of where and when, rather than if.

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