London (AFP) – Antonio Conte batted away questions over the future of Real-Madrid linked pair Eden Hazard and David Luiz on Friday, saying his focus was on beating struggling West Ham to close the gap at the top of the Premier League.
Chelsea visit the London Stadium on Saturday, trailing Manchester City by 11 points and with a three-point deficit to second-placed Manchester United, who host the leaders on Sunday.
Luiz is out with a knee injury, having initially been dropped following the 3-0 loss at Roma on October 31. He has appeared once since, at Qarabag, and Conte has previously angrily rebuffed suggestions of a fallout.
The Italian opted not to answer when asked about the prospect of the Brazilian leaving in January.
“There is a lot of games before the transfer window. Now I think is not the right moment to speak about this,” said Conte. “Now this is not important.”
On Hazard, who has been repeatedly linked with Real due to his admiration for Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, Conte said: “It’s important to be focused on this moment. Then when there is the right moment, I try to answer this question.”
Conte’s focus is on trying to keep pace with City at the top of the table.
“It’s very difficult to see two defeats in a row for a great team,” he said. “At the same time Manchester United can beat Manchester City.”
Danny Drinkwater is out after the midfielder missed three days of training through illness, while there are “two or three” undisclosed doubts.
“The best result is to win against West Ham and then anything can happen in the Manchester derby,” Conte said.
“For me the best result is our result, to try to win in a difficult game.”
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