Chelsea continue to harbour hopes of signing a defender in the final week of the summer transfer window after Antonio Conte confirmed he remains in contact with the club's hierarchy over reinforcing his squad. The Italian is already without Zurt Zouma due to a long-standing knee injury and is keen to add to his back-line before deadline day on 31 August.
Conte's predicament was accentuated on Tuesday [23 August] when 19-year-old debutant Ola Aina was taken off in the second half of the 3-2 English Football League Cup win over Bristol Rovers at Stamford Bridge. The blow leaves the club short of options heading into the fulcrum of the campaign which will stretch the 47-year-old's squad to its limit.
The Guardian understand Chelsea will make a £30m bid for AC Milan centre-back Alesssio Romagnoli in order to ease their defensive problems. The Times meanwhile report that the Eliaquim Mangala's imminent loan switch from Manchester City to Napoli could spark Kalidou Koulibaly's move to the Blues. Conte is coy over specific targets but concedes that he remains in discussions over further signings.
"I hope the injury to Aina is not serious because if it is we will only have four defenders for Burnley. I'm a bit worried," Conte told Sky Sports. "The situation with the market, I'd rather speak with the club about transfers and we stay in contact every day. We are trying to find the right solution to improve this team. It's right to pay the player in the right way."
Michy Batshuayi marked his first Chelsea start with two goals as the club edged into the third round of the EFL Cup at the expense of Darrell Clarke's plucky Rovers. Batshuayi's opener and Victor Moses' first goal for the club for three-and-a-half years has seemingly put Conte's side on course for a comfortable win.
But the newly-promoted League One side had other ideas and Peter Hartley halved the deficit with a neat header, before Batshuayi restored the two goal lead. Ellis Harrison's penalty gave Chelsea a late scare as Rovers threatened a comeback, to leave Conte demanding his side learn to be more ruthless.
"We must understand that when you have the opportunity to kill the game, you must kill the game," he said, according to the official Chelsea website. "It's a pity because we were dominating the game but then we suffered. Tonight I knew the English cup, I knew the atmosphere, and I can tell these games are very tough for all.
"We created a lot of chances in the first half to score many goals, but I don't like when you concede two goals in this situation, from a free-kick and a penalty. When you leave it open a situation like tonight can happen when you stay afraid of drawing the game until the end."