Antonio Conte has refused to confirm or deny reported Chelsea interest in luring Paris Saint-Germain star Marco Verrati to Stamford Bridge in January, amid the anticipated departure of Oscar to China. The Italian boss was also coy on a definitive statement regarding the Brazilian, despite the player himself admitting his big-money move to Shanghai SIPG was "90% sure".
On 16 December the Daily Mail revealed Conte has earmarked the signing of his compatriot as his main target for the coming transfer window, with the Blues are ready to sanction the departure of Oscar to China for around £52m – with other sources claiming the deal could be completed in up to £60m.
The report added that the Blues are opening their approach for the Italy international at £30m, and expect to get his services for under £40m.
But asked in the press conference ahead of the trip to Crystal Palace about those reports, Conte said: "I don't like to talk about different players from my team because I think it's a great lack of respect for the player, for the club, for my players. It's important to talk in the right place about the market in this situation."
Conte did admit he had talked with Chelsea's board regarding Oscar's potential Shanghai SIPG switch, but refused to confirm the deal was at an advanced stage.
Asked whether the money-rich Chinese outfit were offering £60m for the midfield, he responded: "I don't know exactly the amount [Shanghai are offering], or the situation, but I think in the right moment you'll know the situation. But now, we have to wait."
"I talked with the club, the board, I always do. And I explained my thoughts about every situation," Conte responded when asked whether he had asked Chelsea to secure another midfielder in case Oscar leaves. "Then it's normal when you are in a club, you try and make the best decision. There are situations that are amazing and it's very difficult to try and solve the situation in the best way."
Ramires made a similar move to China during last January's transfer window and the likes of Cesc Fabregas and John Terry has also reportedly been tempted in recent days to follow in those footsteps.
Conte admits the growing Chinese market has become a threat for Premier League clubs, but added that playing in England should be more attractive than money.
"The Chinese market is a danger for all, for all the teams in the world, not only for Chelsea," Conte admitted. "But I think we must concentrate on our work, not think that in China there is a lot of money and they can arrive to take the players [there].
"I think this league is fantastic. To play in this league is a great opportunity, an honour. You must be very proud to play in this League because now it's the best league in the world to play. For this reason, I don't worry about this. I think that every single player is the owner of his own future."