LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has questioned the ambition of Premier League title rivals Tottenham Hotspur after a summer of inactivity in the transfer market for the north London club.
Tottenham were champions Chelsea’s closest pursuers last season, finishing seven points behind, but have failed to strengthen with chairman Daniel Levy saying the transfer spending in the Premier League is “unsustainable”.
Tottenham’s only transfer activity has selling England right back Kyle Walker to Manchester City for a reported 45 million pounds.
“If (Spurs) don’t win the title, it’s not a tragedy,” Conte was quoted as saying by the BBC.
“If they don’t arrive in the Champions League, it’s not a tragedy. If they go out in the first round of the Champions League, it’s not a tragedy. If they go out after the first game that they play in the Europa League, it’s not a tragedy.”
Conte said for Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and possibly Liverpool, those kind of failures were tragedies.
“Every team has to understand what their ambitions are,” the Italian said. “If their ambitions are to fight for the title or win the Champions League, you must buy expensive players. Otherwise you continue to stay in your level. It’s simple.
“My question is this: What are Tottenham’s expectations?”
In marked contrast to Tottenham, the other clubs expected to fight for the title have been spending heavily.
Chelsea signed striker Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid for a club record fee reported to be 70 million pounds and paid around 40 million for Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.
Manchester United bought signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton for a reported 75 million pounds while Manchester city have splashed out in excess of 150 million on the likes of Walker and Monaco duo Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva.
Conte said Tottenham still had a strong team “if they are able to keep all their players”.
Tottenham are in building a new stadium at an estimated cost of 800 million pounds and are planning to move into it for the start of the 2018-19 season.
They will play home matches this season at Wembley.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond