Conte questions Tottenham's ambition

Reuters
Tottenham Hotspur's only transfer activity has been selling England right-back Kyle Walker to Manchester City, leading Chelsea manager Antonio Conte to question its ambition.
Reuters
Reuters

Inter Milan's Eder Martins scores against Bayern Munich during their preseason International Champions Cup match in Singapore on July 27, 2017. The Italians won 2-0 and will play Chelsea on July 29, 2017.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has questioned the ambition of English Premier League title rival Tottenham Hotspur after a summer of inactivity in the transfer market for the north London club.

Tottenham was champion Chelsea's closest pursuer last season, finishing seven points behind, but has failed to strengthen with chairman Daniel Levy saying the transfer spending in the EPL is "unsustainable".

Tottenham's only transfer activity has selling England right-back Kyle Walker to Manchester City for a reported 45 million pounds (US$59 million).

"If (Spurs) don't win the title, it's not a tragedy," Conte was quoted as saying by the BBC.

"If they don't arrive in the Champions League, it's not a tragedy. If they go out in the first round of the Champions League, it's not a tragedy. If they go out after the first game that they play in the Europa League, it's not a tragedy."

Conte said for Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and possibly Liverpool, those kind of failures were tragedies.

"Every team has to understand what their ambitions are," the Italian said. "If their ambitions are to fight for the title or win the Champions League, you must buy expensive players. Otherwise you continue to stay in your level. It's simple.

"My question is this: What are Tottenham's expectations?"

In marked contrast to Tottenham, the other clubs expected to fight for the title have been spending heavily.

Chelsea signed striker Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid for a club-record fee reported to be 70 million pounds and paid around 40 million pounds for Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.

United bought signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton for a reported 75 million pounds while City has splashed out in excess of 150 million pounds on the likes of Walker and Monaco duo Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva.

Conte said Tottenham still had a strong team "if they are able to keep all their players".

Tottenham is in building a new stadium at an estimated cost of 800 million pounds and is planning to move into it for the start of the 2018-19 season. It will play home matches this season at Wembley.

Both Spurs and Chelsea are presently taking part in the preseason International Champions Cup, with the former playing in the United States and the latter in Asia.

Preseason tour

On Thursday, Inter Milan striker Martins Eder scored two first-half headers as the Italian side continued to impress on its preseason tour of Asia with a comfortable 2-0 ICC victory over Bayern Munich at the Singapore National Stadium.

Inter has started well under new coach Luciano Spalletti, beating Lyon 1-0 in Nanjing, China, on Monday, and its well-organized unit was able to both contain a formidable Bayern forward line and punch holes in the German side's defense.

The Italians would have been delighted with their first-half performance as Spalletti's defense closed down almost every Bayern threat with the 2-0 scoreline also reflecting just how dangerous they were on the counter-attack.

After a lively opening, Bayern manufactured the first good opportunity when winger Franck Ribery cut in from the left and unleashed a ferocious rising shot that Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic did well to tip over.

The action switched ends as Inter opened the scoring a minute later when Antonio Candreva found space on the right and sent over a teasing cross that was guided home by Eder, who stooped ahead of Felix Goetze to head past Sven Ulreich.

Bayern continued to press high up the pitch and after Kingsley Coman and James Rodriguez both went close with headers, Inter doubled its advantage on 30 minutes when Eder finished off another stylish attack.

Croatian winger Ivan Perisic, reportedly a United target, was the architect of a fine goal when he raced on to a through ball down the left flank and floated over a pinpoint cross for an unmarked Eder to nod home.

Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti would have been further dismayed by the sight of Ribery being carried off immediately after the second goal, the Frenchman appearing to receive a heavy knock to his right foot in a challenge.

"We are still in training but this was a great performance against a strong Bayern side," Brazil-born Eder said in a pitchside interview.

"Spalletti is a great trainer and he has had nothing but a positive impact on the team so far."

Ancelotti made four chances at halftime, including the introduction of Thomas Muller and Renato Sanches, as he looked to add a greater sense of urgency to Bayern's play after a lackluster display from his starting lineup.

The German champion appeared more enterprising as Koman and substitute Marco Friedl went close to reducing the deficit as Inter continued to look dangerous on the counter.

Sanches, who struggled to make an impact at Bayern last season, almost capped an assured performance in midfield with a goal when his long-range shot sailed just wide on 71 minutes but a solid Inter backline was otherwise untroubled thereafter.

The tournament concludes on Saturday when Inter takes on Chelsea, which lost 2-3 to Bayern on Tuesday, at the same venue.


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