Chelsea boss Antonio Conte plays down talk of a rift with club's board

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How happy is Chelsea boss Antonio Conte?

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte insists he is "happy" at the club despite speculation his relationship with owner Roman Abramovich has become strained.

Conte, 48, guided the Blues to the Premier League title last season and they currently sit third this term, 15 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Abramovich is reportedly angry that the Italian has said he did not choose the club's signings this season.

"I would be very happy to continue to work with my players," said Conte.

"I'm happy to try every day to put all myself for this job. I would be very happy if there are some new players.

"I'm repeating always the same thing - I'm the coach. My task is to try to do the best for this club, to try to improve my players for this club."

On Wednesday, following Chelsea's EFL Cup defeat against Arsenal, Conte told reporters the club "decides every single player" of their transfer policy.

The comments led to reports the former Juventus manager is vulnerable in his position and that his assistant Carlo Cudicini is acting as a messenger between the Italian and the board.

'We don't have other options'

Conte has 58 wins from 85 games
Conte's win percentage is 68%

Last summer, Chelsea spent about £185m on goalkeeper Willy Caballero, defenders Antonio Rudiger and Davide Zappacosta, midfielders Danny Drinkwater and Tiemoue Bakayoko, and striker Alvaro Morata.

On Friday, Conte said his only January signing to date - midfielder Ross Barkley in a £15m deal from Everton - is in line to make his first start for the club in Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Newcastle.

Barkley, 24, has not started a league fixture since 12 May after undergoing hamstring surgery.

"After a bad injury you need a bit of time to be 100% fit," continued Conte. "But if you want to accelerate this process he has to play, not only to have the training sessions, especially in this moment, after Willian and Morata injuries we don't have other options."

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