Date published: Monday 31st July 2017 9:45

Antonio Conte says that Chelsea’s players are “very tired” after a difficult pre-season.

The Premier League champions started their preparations this summer later than most sides.

Their first pre-season fixture was against Arsenal on July 22, with every other club except for Tottenham having started earlier.

They played three games in the space of just over a week, and now face Arsenal in the Community Shield final at Wembley on Sunday.

The squad flew back from their tour of the Far East on Saturday, with Conte stating that his players were exhausted.

“Now it is difficult to tell how far off we are,” the Italian said. “We have to continue to work.

“My players are very tired because they played three games in only eight days. With this temperature and humidity, players are always the same and they will be tired.

“It is important to rest and to come back to London and restart work.”

According to the Daily Mirror, this represents a ‘transfer nudge’ from Conte.

The Blues have signed four first-team players so far this summer, but have sold seven for fees, have loaned 17 players out and have even lost John Terry on a free transfer.

The Mirror claim that Chelsea ‘have lost out in the battle’ for Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches.

It is claimed that the Portuguese is reluctant to move to Stamford Bridge as he fears the arrival of Tiemoue Bakayoko ‘could see him trade the bench at Bayern for the same situation’.