Conte focused on Chelsea amid Luiz talk

Dec 1, 2017 - 3:42 PM Manager Antonio Conte has dismissed speculation linking defender David Luiz with a move away from Chelsea and said the club's main focus was on catching Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Luiz was dropped for Chelsea's league matches against Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool and missed Wednesday's 1-0 win over Swansea with a knee injury.

Conte has put the Brazilian's omission down to tactical decisions but with suggestions of a breakdown in the pair's relationship, reports in the Spanish media said the defender could quit amid interest from Real Madrid.

"These are speculations in this period. We pass from my sacking to the Real Madrid (story)," Conte said ahead of Saturday's Premier League game against Newcastle United.

"We are very fast to pass to different situations. But my focus is only on Chelsea and I am totally committed to this club and my players."

Luiz, who featured in last month's 4-0 Champions League victory over Qarabag, is set for a spell on the sidelines with no timeframe on his return.

Chelsea lie third with 29 points after nine wins, two draws and two defeats and Conte stressed his team must believe they could close the 11-point gap on City.

"It's right for the mentality. In every game we must have the right desire and will to fight," the Italian said.

"In this moment it is very difficult. They (City) are getting good results at the end of the game many times."

Meanwhile, Conte said he would accept a Football Association charge for misconduct following his dismissal for arguing with the referee during Wednesday's win over Swansea.

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez will return to Chelsea confident he will receive a good reception after his brief cameo at Stamford Bridge.

Benitez was drafted in to replace manager Roberto di Matteo in November 2012 and although he was only in charge for a little more than six months, delivered a third-placed Premier League finish and the Europa League title.

"It was really positive there. I have a lot of friends there, the staff was really good and the fans were fine," he said.

"I tried to take the positives and those are that they realised we did our job and we achieved what they wanted, which is fine."

Source: AAP

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