Antonio Conte: Tottenham still too far off Premier League’s best despite big-spending summer
ntonio Conte says there is “still too to much distance” between Tottenham and the Premier League’s top clubs for his side to be considered title contenders, as he admitted his squad could become stretched by the Autumn schedule.
Spurs signed seven new players in the transfer window, with Destiny Udogie immediately returning to Udinese on loan, but Conte says they need at least three more transfer windows before they are on the same level as the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.
“In this transfer window we did what the club could do,” Conte said ahead of Saturday’s visit of Fulham. “And I think that we did good things.
“But I have to be honest with you because if I see the other squads of the top teams there is still too much distance. And for this reason we have to know that we’ve just started this process to try to improve the squad.
“In this transfer window we tried to do this and also in January, with Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski. For sure to be competitive, to fight to be a title contender, but also to get a place in Champions League, you need at least three transfer windows more before improving and being at the same level as the other top clubs.”
Spurs completed all their summer business by July 19, meaning their six new signings have all had a pre-season under Conte.
The Italian said he was pleased with the club’s “vision” during the window but played down suggestions they have a clear advantage over the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, who spent big late in the days before Thursday night’s deadline.
“Honestly if you sign a player £100million or £80m on the last day, you have a big advantage because it means you are signing a top player,” Conte said.
“To sign also a player for free or on loan, it is a different situation. I want to be very clear. I think we did what we could do and in the right time because the vision was very clear about the money to spend. We spent money on two players, Richarlison and [Yves] Bissouma.
“The others were on loan or a free but for sure to have a vision and to anticipate and to give the coach the possibility to work from the start I think it means we work very well with a vision very clear, and not wait until the last day for a player to come on loan or to sign a player with characteristics that are not good for our team.”
From this week, Spurs will play every three or four players until the Premier League breaks for the World Cup in mid-November – with the exception of this month’s international break – and Conte acknowledge that his squad could quickly become stretched by inevitable injuries.
Significantly, he played down the short-term prospect of youngsters Djed Spence, Bryan Gil, both 21, and 19-year-old Pape Matar Sarr of playing significant roles.
“When you play so many games in a short time, for sure you have to understand that probably you have to face injuries,” Conte said. “For this reason it’s important to have an important squad to face four competitions.
“We’re going to play Champions League, not the Europa League or Conference League. Europa League or Conference League, you can allow yourself to make big rotations.
“When you go in the Champions League you have to go with a strong team and for sure the task is harder. But, this is a good opportunity for me, for the club, to understand if we miss something.
“We’re going in the right way for the capacity in this moment of the club to invest money. Then we have to be realistic to understand that there are different clubs: clubs who can invest a lot of money, other clubs who can invest normal money.
“For sure in the path it’s harder under this aspect. But we want to continue to improve. We are working very well, I’m happy to have this group of players, this squad, the new players are totally inside the team, inside the dressing room.
“We did the right things. But if someone thinks we completed the situation, we are very far from this.”
Asked about Spence, a £20m signing from Middlesbrough, Conte said: “We spent money for Richarlison and Bissouma, because these two players play many games in the Premier League and now we are talking about two players who are ready to play.
“About Djed, I always tell everybody and talk about it being an investment for the club to sign a young player. When you sign a young player you know you have to wait, to work with him to try to improve. He is a good prospect, a perfect prospect for Tottenham but then if we talk about trying to be competitive to win, for sure we need other signings.
“This has to be very clear because otherwise we make confusion and I want to be very clear under this aspect. For sure, he will be a good player for the future for Tottenham.
“[Gil and Sarr] have to work like Spence to develop and then to be ready to be Tottenham players for the future.
“This has to be very clear otherwise then it would be very important to not make confusions, make confusions to understand which other players if you want to be competitive or not. Young player, good prospect but at the same time we need to have players ready to play Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.”