Big-spending rivals make it harder to win in England than Italy, says Chelsea's Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes that retaining the league title is an easier task in Italy than it is in the Premier League due to the transfer policies of the leading clubs.
Conte won the second of his three consecutive Serie A titles at Juventus in 2013 after rivals AC Milan sold forwards Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexandre Pato, as well as defender Thiago Silva. Napoli had off-loaded winger Ezequiel Lavezzi in the previous transfer window.
Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea has a drink during the Premier League match between Stoke City and ChelseaGetty Images
"It is very difficult for every team in this league; To defend – it is very difficult to win two titles in a row," Conte said.
" We won the title with Juventus and I was expecting a really strong challenge from AC Milan, but instead they sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris St Germain, so they became weaker. It wasn't simple second time, but it was easier. Here, from last season to this season, you have big teams and now they are bigger... And now after I think a great transfer market, they have improved a lot. It's not simple to play this league."
City and United splashed out in the last transfer window and the two Manchester clubs lead the league table on 19 points from seven games, followed by Tottenham in third.
Conte's team travel to basement side Crystal Palace, who are yet to win a league game this season, on October 14.
The number of big-spending, title-chasing teams in the Premier League almost certainly makes it harder to win than some of Europe's other top divisions - particularly when compared to Juventus and their dominance of Serie A in recent years. But let's not get bogged down in all that chat, because that's exactly what Conte wants.
These comments from the Chelsea boss are the latest in a string of remarks from Chelsea referring to the spending of their rivals. How can little Chelsea possibly be expected to compete against such financial might? By spending gigantic amounts themselves of course.
Only Manchester City out-spent the Blues this summer, with Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater, Antonio Rudiger and Davide Zappacosta all moving to Stamford Bridge in expensive deals. The reported cost of those transfers set Chelsea back almost £180 million!
So next time you hear Antonio Conte or one of his Chelsea players reference the spending power they're up against, just bear those figures in mind.