A disappointed Antonio Conte has described the recent sale of defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic to Premier League rivals Manchester United as a 'great loss' for Chelsea ahead of the new season as the reigning champions look to defend their title.
Matic traded Stamford Bridge for Old Trafford in a £35m deal in the wake of Tiemoue Bakayoko's high profile arrival from Monaco, having earlier been left behind as the rest of the squad embarked on a summer tour of east Asia.
"Matic knows very well what I think about him," Conte is quoted as saying by Sky Sports.
"The importance for me about this player, who is a really good player, a top player, very important for our team, but sometimes you must accept this crazy transfer market.
"And sometimes you must accept different decisions. But he is a great loss for us."
Many Chelsea fans believe the younger and more physical Bakayoko to be an upgrade on 29-year-old Matic, but Conte has concerns given that the French international arrived injured and will still need time to reach full fitness and properly settle into his new surroundings.
"Bakayoko is a good signing for us," Conte said in further quotes published by the London Evening Standard ahead of the new campaign.
"He is very young. My idea was to give Bakayoko the right time to adapt in this league behind Matic. But now after the sale of Matic, we need to try to accelerate this process for Bakayoko after his injury.
"We have Cesc Fabregas and we are trying to find another midfielder. Because now we have only three midfielders and we need another midfielder," he added, but Chelsea have been warned off trying to prise Danny Drinkwater away from Leicester.
"I hope to be able to improve our squad. The transfer market is not finished. We want to be competitive and we want to fight for the title again. The club knows my priorities."