We’ll do the thing that everyone’s doing. You know, take half a quote, make it a headline, and watch the clicks roll in. Though I think we’re on the backside of this David Luiz and Michy Batshuayi wave, so we may not be surfing much of anything.
Here are the Conte quotes that have been turned into headlines that make it look like Conte’s actively encouraging their separation.
“I was a player, I will understand if someone is worried about the World Cup. I understand it’s very important to keep players very happy to stay here to work with us and I think this must be our priority. To keep the players happy to stay with us, to continue to work with us. At the same time, I was a player and I will understand if someone is thinking in this way (that they need to play more).”
“[But] our squad is not big and for this reason I think it’s impossible to send on loan one player or to sell one player if we don’t take another player.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Telegraph
In fact, we’ve already covered these quotes in the true context that they were meant as, with Conte responding to a question about the David Luiz injury and transfer situation and not actually booting the pair of them out the door, which is what the coverage would have you believe. Some of the headlines were bad enough that even the journalists themselves had to clarify later, such as Matt Law of the Telegraph.
For those who don’t know - I don’t write the headlines.— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) January 2, 2018
The one notable shift in tone from Conte in these quotes is that he previously made it very clear that he doesn’t consider it his job to keep players happy, and the players should be happy simply due to the honor of playing for Chelsea and competing for trophies. So that stance seems to have relaxed a bit, perhaps in part due to the David Luiz and Batshuayi situation, or perhaps (or in addition) due to the Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois contract situations.
It’s fairly long-standing unwritten policy from Chelsea to not stand in the way of unhappy players wanting to leave, and that’s been the case well before Conte, too. It’s one of the reasons we’ll be playing against Petr Čech today or why there are multiple ex-Blues up in Manchester. So if David Luiz and Michy Batshuayi want to leave, we might just grant them their wish — but as in the cases of Čech and De Bruyne and Mata and Matić, we’ll have to line up some replacements first.