Spurs need more than January window to be top-four contenders, warns Conte

Spurs need more than January window to be top-four contenders, warns Conte

Antonio Conte has warned it will take more than the January transfer window to turn Tottenham into regular top-four contenders again.

The Spurs manager is planning a meeting with his chairman, Daniel Levy, and the club’s football managing director, Fabio Paratici, to discuss plans for January. Conte has been vocal about extra quality being required, despite lifting a previously underperforming squad into the top-four race. Tottenham are seventh but have two games in hand on fourth-placed Arsenal, who are five points ahead.

Key additions over the next few weeks could help Tottenham push towards Champions League qualification, but Conte says there is no quick fix that will enable the club to make ground on the teams he sees as the Premier League’s leading quartet – Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United.

“If we think this, football is not this way and at this moment there are important teams who see those as important spots this season,” Conte said. “As I said to you before, to get a place in the Champions League it means somebody has to fail … otherwise I think there are four big, big teams at this moment and then there are other teams trying to build with important investment this year to close this gap.

“But it is not only one transfer market … football is complicated. It is not only money, you have to build something important over years. I am here to do this but I know it is going to be very difficult. Everybody keeps asking about getting into the Champions League but I want to be very honest with everybody and to tell them we have an important job to do and need time and patience.”

Conte is still yet to discuss the finer details of potential January business with the club hierarchy, having taken extra time to decide which players he intends to keep.

“I asked for time to make the right evaluation,” he said. “We had a meeting one month later when I was in charge. It was not the right time. Now I am sure, after two months, and waiting for the meeting with the club to speak about this.”

Tottenham travel to Watford on Saturday and are likely to be without Steven Bergwijn, Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon. Bergwijn picked up a calf injury against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, while Lo Celso suffered a similar problem in training. Sessegnon has a hamstring injury, though it is not as bad as the one that has kept Cristian Romero out since November.