Antonio Conte expected to sign new deal and warns Premier League rivals that Chelsea will be even better next season

simon johnson
Evening Standard
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Antonio Conte has warned Chelsea’s Premier League rivals that his side will be even better next season.

Chelsea have dominated the title race for the past four months and need just 21 points from their last 10 League matches to bring the title back to Stamford Bridge.

It is a remarkable turnaround for the Blues, who finished 10th last term - their lowest position for 20 years.

This is Conte's first campaign in charge having taken over only last summer and the Italian suggests there is a lot more to come from his side.

He said: "This is the first season for me at Chelsea and for sure when you have the possibility to work more years with the team you can improve, you must improve. It's normal.

"This season is very important because my players are understanding my idea of football. They are adapting to my system, to my philosophy of football. We are building something important.

Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

"I think my players are fully in my idea of football, fully in the method. When I arrived as a new coach in a new team, you must know your players and have a bit of time to understand the habits, and then to bring them to your idea - but also to show them that your idea is a positive."

Conte is expected to sign an extension to his contract in the summer and is already planning to make at least four key signings.

The Italian's main priority at the moment, though, is finishing top in May and is urging his side to keep the momentum after they return from the international break next week.

Chelsea can afford to draw some of their remaining games and should still claim first place comfortably.

But Conte added: "We have to always think positive and go game by game. Now there is an international break. There will be a bit of rest for [some] players, the other players go to play with the national teams. Then we start in Cobham.

"It's important to be focused, because we have two games at home against Crystal Palace and Manchester City. It's important to be focused."

When asked whether Gary Cahill's decisive late goal in the 2-1 win over Stoke on Saturday was the mark of champions, Conte said: "I think this must be Chelsea's mentality.

"Don't forget, Chelsea is a great team and must always play to win. For this reason when you play in this type of team you must have, you must build, you must work on this type of aspect.

"Against Stoke, we showed from the start until the end, the will to win the game, not to come for only one point.

"We didn't want to manage the situation, we wanted to play the game to try to win, and in the end we deserved to win."

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