Antonio Conte: Chelsea boss says team can improve and he can keep best players

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Chelsea can keep improving after winning the Premier League title and will try to retain their best players, says manager Antonio Conte.

The Blues became champions of England for a sixth time with a 1-0 victory over West Brom on Friday.

Conte, 47, has been linked with the vacant Inter Milan job, while there is speculation over the future of striker Diego Costa and playmaker Eden Hazard.

“If you can continue with these players you can improve a lot,” said Conte.

The former Juventus and Italy boss led Chelsea, who finished 10th last year, to the title in his first season in charge.

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Reports in Italy suggest Chinese-backed Serie A club Inter are prepared to offer Conte £250,000 a week if he leaves Stamford Bridge one season into a three-year deal.

The Italian said he and his squad had only “started to do our work”.

“Now they know my idea, I know them, the characteristics of my players, and we can improve,” he added.

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Belgium international Hazard, 26, has been linked with Real Madrid,while Spain forward Costa, 28, was left out of a game at Leicester in January after a disagreement with a fitness coach, amid widespread reports of interest from Chinese clubs.

“The club want to fight to win every competition – we have the same ambition,” said Conte.

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“For this reason we try to keep the best players.”

Chelsea have two Premier League fixtures remaining – against Watford and Sunderland – before facing Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley on 27 May.

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Former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright: “The way he has got players playing, Victor Moses, Willian etc is incredible – he’s kept the whole squad happy.

“There’s been no red cards, discipline has been very good, and the amount of consistency through not changing players so often has kept the players together.

“Conte has also got that assured calmness – not so much on the pitch but behind the scenes.”

Former England and Newcastle striker Alan Shearer: “Antonio Conte’s passion and enthusiasm has filtered down to all his players all season.

“The big change was the shift in the system after they lost to Liverpool and were beaten 3-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates. They were playing four at the back and it wasn’t working at all so he had to do something.

“They went to a back three, changed a couple of players, and then won 13 games on the spin, which was an incredible turnaround for a team that had struggled.

“They’ve certainly benefited without being in Europe by making only 38 line-up changes, the fewest in the league, so they’ve used that to their advantage.

“There is a case for mentioning all their players but I’ve got to pick out Cesar Azpilicueta, who has played every minute of every league game and turned in an eight or nine out of 10 performance every time.”

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