Antonio Conte has taken yet another swing at Chelsea's ambitions in the transfer market, or lack thereof, after insisting his players must also shoulder the blame for a poor season.
Conte's defence of the Premier League title came unstuck in the early months of the campaign and after knockout blows in the League Cup and Champions League, the Blues' only hopes of silverware this season rest solely with the FA Cup.
However, with the club precariously placed in fifth position in the league table Conte is well aware that another lacklustre summer in the transfer window could await as a campaign without Champions League will fail to attract the calibre of player he so desperately desires.
Although Conte was quick to take aim at the club's recent signings, he was just as abrasive when landing some blame of the lacklustre season on his playing squad.
“I don’t know if it’s a problem to attract a great player or not. I repeat, last season we won the title...and...yep...you can see our transfer market," Conte told the Mirror. “Our market. I think this is not the most important thing if you stay in the Champions League or win. Last season, we won the title...
“I think, or the result of our time, like last season, when we won title and reached final of the FA Cup, it’s always the same: we must be ready to share the responsibility with the club, the players, me and my staff."
With a season without a place in Europe on the cards speculation has arisen linking the likes of Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois with a move away from Stamford Bridge, but Conte is adamant he can keep his best side at the club next season regardless.
He added: “Don’t forget that two years ago Chelsea finished tenth, with many players of this season. And they decided to continue to play for this club, two years ago. Many players, they were here, when they finished tenth.
“I don’t know [if they will leave]. I think this is not a question for me. This is a question for the players. Not for me.”
Chelsea's last hopes of silverware this season will first require a victory over Leicester City on Sunday to ensure progression into the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
“We have to try to do both (top four and FA Cup). To try to go to the next round, and to reach the SF in FA Cup. It won’t be easy. Because Leicester is a good team," Conte added.