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English Premier League

Chelsea's Antonio Conte not wary of poaching by Chinese clubs

Diego Costa is the latest high-profile name to be linked with a move to the Super League, with former teammates Oscar and John Obi Mikel having already made the switch

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 5:58pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 5:58pm

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is not wary of big-spending Chinese clubs poaching his players amid reports that a lucrative offer from Far East has unsettled Premier League joint-top scorer Diego Costa.

Oscar and John Obi Mikel have already left Chelsea to join Chinese Super League sides in the January transfer window, while media reports suggest playmaker Willian is also on the radar.

“I think we are a great club and it’s a great honour to play for Chelsea and for this reason I don’t see [China] as a threat for my players. The money is not everything,” Conte said.

“When you play for a great team like Chelsea, you must be pleased. I have to look at the past. Oscar played with us, had a good offer from China and he went.

“But this league is really competitive and every player wants to come and play in this league.

“This league is the first in the world because of a lot of positive things. For this reason, I don’t think these offers from China are a threat for our league.”

‘We’re pioneers,’ says €60m Oscar of big-money moves to China

Costa missed Saturday’s 3-0 win over Leicester City and Conte said it was due through a back injury even if speculation was strife about a possible Chinese offer for the striker.

Conte said he was pleased with the way his side has responded after Tottenham Hotspur ended their 13-games winning run this month.

“When you win 13 in a row and then you arrive at the moment where you suffer a defeat, to restart is not easy,” the Italian said.

“I know this from when I was a footballer and I understand, the psychological aspect is very important.

“But I think we started very well in the FA Cup and in the league to win against a team that is very tough and with really good players and a good manager.”

Leaders Chelsea host third-from-bottom Hull City on Sunday.