Title winning Conte ‘only just started’ at Chelsea

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

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.

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.

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.

“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.

Conte’s speculation ‘more rumours than reality’

Guus Hiddink took interim charge of Chelsea last season, with the club 16th in the Premier League and one point above the relegation zone following the departure of manger Jose Mourinho.

The Dutchman, who led the side to a 10th-place finish, met with Conte at the end of that season.

Hiddink described the Italian as “a man who had already achieved a lot before he came to Chelsea” and that winning the title was a “confirmation of his attitude, professionalism and energy”.

On speculation linking Conte with a move to Italy, Hiddink told BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek: “There are always rumours coming up but I think the club is very stable. It is a huge club to work for, perfect circumstances and very ambitious people everywhere.

“It’s more rumour than reality.”

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