Conte coy on Ndombele but says Winks ‘will stay’ at Spurs

Antonio Conte brushed aside questions about Tanguy Ndombele’s future at Tottenham but added Harry Winks would not be leaving in the January transfer window.

Ndombele has started just one of Spurs’ last eight Premier League games, while Winks’ game-time has increased in recent weeks.

Conte said he will “for sure” be looking to strengthen his squad in January, but when asked about the role Ndombele would play in his squad, the Spurs boss simply replied: “He’s a midfielder.”

When pressed further, Conte said: “I pay the same attention in every single session to every player. My concentration is not only on 12, 13, 14 players, but the full squad. There are players that understand very well, others they need more time or for others it could be difficult to understand.”

And on the prospect of Ndombele leaving, he then added: “I think it’s better for me and the club to speak together and then we’ll have the situation more clear than now. To speak about a player that can come or go, now it’s not right, it’s not honest.”

In contrast, Conte was glowing in his praise of Winks, who has started three of their last six Premier League games after playing just 61 minutes in their opening 11 league games.

“Winksy showed to be a reliable player,” Conte said. “Winks will stay here. Winksy showed that I can count on him.”

Harry Winks made a decisive contribution in midfield

Harry Winks has impressed since returning to the side

Conte is also confident Hugo Lloris will sign a new deal at the club, despite the captain being free to talk to overseas clubs in January given his current contract expires at the end of the season.

“Hugo is a Tottenham player, the captain,” Conte said. “For sure he will talk with the club to try to find a solution.

“I think that he wants to stay. He loves this club. This could be his opinion.”

Conte said he is waiting to have a meeting with the club to discuss transfers next month.

He added: “For sure we need to improve the quality of this squad. I was sure after seven days, 10 days about this. And then I make the evaluation on the players I can count on.

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Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte says the evaluation he made when he arrived, that the club need to strengthen the squad, has not changed

“This squad needs to improve before thinking about a place in UEFA [Champions League]. The league’s level is very high. Now you are in the middle, you have to think to be something important, for this reason I ask for patience and time, because in this time the gap is very large. We need to work a lot and try to build and improve the quality of our squad.”

Conte’s side travel to Watford on New Year’s Day and will look to get their top-four push back on track after drawing against Southampton.

The Spurs boss believes there is a ‘Big Four’ in the Premier League, and that his side will have to rely on at least one of them “failing” if they are to reach the Champions League.

Conte said: “I don’t know which [team] is the favourite [to finish in the top four]. For sure, on paper there are four teams very strong with good squads.

“[Manchester] City, [Manchester] United, Chelsea, Liverpool. These are the four top teams, they have to fail to find a place in the Champions League. We have to be very good, because there’s Arsenal, West Ham, Leicester, Everton – many good teams. You have to hope the others fail and be good to perform.”

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