Brutal honesty the best policy to strengthen Tottenham squad, says Conte

Manager expresses frustration as Champions League win seems like ancient history

Antonio Conte will continue to deliver uncomfortable truths to his Tottenham players because "with good lies, you don't have a long time to live". The manager, who has lost Son Heung-min to a muscle injury for the remainder of the month, poured out his frustrations after Wednesday's dismal 2-0 Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg defeat at Chelsea.

Conte said the tie had highlighted how far Spurs were from the top level and added that “there is not only a problem of mentality here”, pointing out how Chelsea had invested heavily last summer on the back of winning the Champions League. “This is enough to understand the difference at this moment between us and them,” he said.

Conte wants to strengthen his squad this month and he has a strong interest in Wolves’ Adama Traoré and Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey, although the 21-year-old could prove to be too expensive.

Conte said he remains focused on drawing the best from his existing players, based in part on a man-management approach of brutal honesty.


“When I was a player I hated the coach that told me good lies to keep me calm and in a good relationship,” Conte said. “After a loss, you can learn more than after a win and my players know very well that I’ll tell them always the truth because with the truth you can improve. With good lies, you don’t have a long time to live.”

Moving on

Spurs are open to moving on a number of players, including Republic of Ireland defender Matt Doherty, Joe Rodon, Dele Alli and Steven Bergwijn. Rodon, an £11 million signing from Swansea in October 2020, is likely to be loaned.

Meanwhile, Arsenal will let Mikel Arteta spend significantly to improve his squad in this transfer window if the right players become available, but they face a battle to land the Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic.

Arteta wants a midfielder and a striker, with depth in the former position a priority after Ainsley Maitland-Niles was allowed to join Roma on loan for the season. The addition of Vlahovic, a hugely sought-after centre-forward who has scored 16 goals in Serie A this season, would be a more extravagant flexing of Arsenal’s muscles, and they are making efforts to exploit the Serbian’s precarious situation in Italy. Vlahovic has rejected an extension to his contract, which expires in 2023, and Fiorentina will need to cash in on their prize asset before next season.


Interest in Vlahovic from Europe’s wealthier clubs is significant, and even if Arsenal put together a viable package this month, they would face several obstacles in completing a potentially complicated deal. One of them is that Vlahovic would need persuading to join a club in their fifth season without Champions League football, although they are fourth in the Premier League and poised to push hard for a return.

Asked whether Arsenal would look to close a deal for someone of Vlahovic’s standing in the current window, Arteta said: “I think with the amount of things, and the way that we want to evolve the squad, we have to maximise every window and we are alert. We know exactly what we need to do. Whether we can accomplish that in January or the summer is a different question.”

Arsenal’s need for a striker has been heightened by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s exile from the squad, although the fact that Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette will be able to leave on frees in the summer had already made it a key position to strengthen.