Antonio Conte made it clear that Nemanja Matic is still an important player for Chelsea and insists the pair has no problem.

Matic has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge this summer, with Juventus reportedly monitoring the player’s availability as they seek a replacement for new Manchester United signing Paul Pogba.

However, Conte was adamant the 28-year-old Serbia international is aware of his value to the club and denied there is any conflict between them.

“Nemanja is an important player for me, and he knows this,” said Conte.

“There isn’t a problem with him – Nemanja was a Chelsea player and is a Chelsea player.”

Conte will get his first experience of Premier League football when his side takes on West Ham United, live on Monday Night Football, as Chelsea aim to improve on last season’s disappointing campaign, which saw them finish 10th in the top flight.

Chelsea have already spent more than £60m on new signings N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi in a bid to steer them back to the top of the league, but Conte said the club’s attempts to bring in more players are proving difficult.

“For all the clubs, it’s a crazy transfer market,” said Conte.

“Not for Chelsea, in general. This market is a bit crazy, because when you try to buy one or another player, the cost is very, very expensive, and not the real valuation of the player.”

Juventus earlier this week stepped up their pursuit for Nemanja Matic as they identified the Serbian as Paul Pogba’s ideal replacement.

The 27-year-old is on Juve’s short-list along with Paris Saint-Germain’s Blaise Matuidi and Luis Gustavo of Wolfsburg.

However, Chelsea’s Italian boss wants to keep Matic and believes he can turn him into a world star.

Matic also last week revealed that he was delighted to feel wanted by Antonio Conte and hinted he was happy to stay at Stamford Bridge.

But the Serbia international, who rejoined from Benfica for £25million in January 2014, has not ruled out a move.

Matic has featured regularly under Conte in pre-season and it will take a huge offer for the club to consider selling.

In Chelsea’s pre-season matches, Eden Hazard again looked lively, and with two defensive midfielders happy to sit back, he becomes less responsible for covering defensively.

Matic himself got further forward as a result, whilst still slotting in alongside new signing Kante when required. After Kante’s introduction, Matic found himself harrying and chasing down opposition players higher up the pitch – adding another facet to Chelsea’s defensive unit.


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