Conte tells Barca to forget replacing Neymar with Hazard
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has told Barcelona there is no chance he will allow Eden Hazard to join the Spanish club as a replacement for Neymar.Neymar completed his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday, when the Brazil striker signed a five-year deal with the French club after paying €222 million to release himself from his contract at Barcelona.
Neymar’s exit leaves a vacancy in the Barca attack that reports have suggested they would like to fill with Chelsea forward Hazard.Asked on Friday how he would respond to a big-money offer for Hazard, Conte told reporters: “We are trying to buy the players, not to sell them. Otherwise the number is always less and we are in trouble.
“These are rumours. Eden is very happy to stay with us and to start the new season.”Hazard is currently sidelined while he recovers from ankle surgery and the Belgian, who was injured on international duty at the end of last season, will miss the start of Chelsea’s Premier League title defence.
Hazard’s absence and Diego Costa’s exile after his fall out with Conte leaves the Italian short of attacking options ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield clash with Arsenal.Quizzed on whether he had expressed an interest in Neymar before PSG swooped, Conte said: “No, not true.
“It’s an impressive amount of money, £200 million. If PSG is able to do this why not?
“For a normal player now you must be ready to spend £40 million, £50 million. If you want to buy a top player, you must be ready to spend this money.”
While Conte was never in the hunt for Neymar, he has been keen to add several new signings ahead of a twin assault on the Premier League and Champions League.
Having won the English title while absent from European football last season, Conte knows the demands on his squad will be much greater this term.So far, he has landed former Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco and defender Antonio Rudiger from Roma.