Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has admitted he has “great affection” for Romelu Lukaku following the striker’s rocky week at Chelsea.
Lukaku has made headlines at Chelsea after giving an explosive interview in the Italian media in which he said he was “not happy” with his current situation.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel responded to the comments on Friday, describing them as “noise we don’t need” in the build up to their crucial Premier League game against Liverpool.
Lukaku joined Chelsea in a £97.5million transfer from Inter Milan in the summer, but his comments have sparked speculation over his future.
Tuchel is reportedly considering punishing Lukaku by dropping him for Sunday’s game against Liverpool, although The Telegraph reports that the Blues won’t sell him this month.
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Conte, who managed the Belgian striker at Inter, was asked about the situation following Tottenham’s 1-0 win over Watford on Saturday.
”Lukaku words?” he said to Sky Sports. “I feel great affection for him but he’s Chelsea player.”
Conte enjoyed great success working with Lukaku at Inter, with the 28-year-old scoring 24 goals to help the club win the 2020/21 Serie A title.
Lukaku is clearly not a transfer target for the Italian manager at Spurs, but the club are looking to bolster their squad in January.
“We need to talk about new signings, yes,” Conte said.
“When I was appointed, I was told that we would meet to talk about new signings. Now I have everything clear.”
Conte is usually reluctant to join clubs mid-season and the 52-year-old’s arrival in north London in November came on the condition that money would be spent in January.
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“For sure we need to improve the quality of this squad,” Conte said this week.
“I was sure after seven days, 10 days about this. And then I make the evaluation on the players I can count on.
“This squad needs to improve before thinking about a place in UEFA [ Champions League ]. The league’s level is very high.
“Now you are in the middle, you have to think to be something important, for this reason I ask for patience and time, because in this time the gap is very large.
“We need to work a lot and try to build and improve the quality of our squad.”
It is not just incoming players that Spurs are concentrating on, with a new contract for captain Hugo Lloris also on the cards.
The 35-year-old is out of contract in July and Conte has made his position clear on the Frenchman’s future.
“For us, he’s very important and I’m sure that in a short time they can find a solution with the club, because he loves Tottenham and Tottenham loves him,” he said after the win over Watford.