(Reuters) - Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has dismissed speculation linking defender David Luiz with a move away from Stamford Bridge and said that the club’s main focus was on catching up with Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Luiz was dropped for Chelsea’s Premier League matches against Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool and missed Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Swansea City 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 that the defender could quit the club amid interest from Real Madrid.
“These are speculations in this period. We pass from my sacking to the Real Madrid (story),” Conte told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against 12th-placed 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 the club not putting a timescale on his return.
Chelsea are third in the table with 29 points after nine wins, two draws and two defeats and Conte stressed that his team had to 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. 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.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge