Conte wants 'point of reference' striker as Barnes joins surprising Chelsea links

Chelsea's Antonio Conte wants his side's striker to act as a "point of reference" as the Premier League champions continue to hunt a replacement for Diego Costa, with Burnley forward Ashley Barnes the latest shock name to be linked.

After missing out on Romelu Lukaku and Fernando Llorente to Manchester United and Tottenham respectively, Chelsea continue to be associated with a move for a target man.

Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch are among the players to have been surprisingly linked with Chelsea, who are also reportedly keen on Roma's former Manchester City attacker Edin Dzeko.

Michy Batshuayi impressed when deputising for the suspended Alvaro Morata as Chelsea ended a run of five successive draws in all competitions with a 4-0 thumping of Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

With Chelsea seeking to add to sole January arrival Ross Barkley - and with club-record signing Morata yet to score in 2018 - Conte clarified what he wants from a striker.

"As you know very well, I don't like to speak about the transfer market," Conte told reporters after Eden Hazard starred at the Amex.

"In my idea of football, we need a striker who must be a point of reference, to have these type of combinations. Batshuayi played a really good game - he didn't score, but he worked well for the team. He did what I asked him to do.

"To repeat, a number nine is an important player - I want him to be a point of reference to our team. Today I'm very satisfied with Batshuayi."

Batshuayi hit the goal that secured last season's title but has only scored in one Premier League game this season, netting a brace in October's 4-2 victory over Watford.

And Conte conceded it is difficult for players, including Batshuayi, who have been linked with temporary moves away from Stamford Bridge during the transfer window to stay focused.

"For sure in this period it is not simple, it's not easy for the players," Conte added. "Especially for the players who want to go on loan. It's not simple but at the same time in my head there is the idea to work with these players and to continue to work with all these players.

"I'm very happy to work with this group of players because they show me in every moment a great commitment, they show me they want to do what they want in the game.

"Batshuayi is a Chelsea player and we are working with him very hard in the same way that we are working with Morata, we are working with Hazard, Willian and Pedro and now with Barkley.

"For me, Michy is a Chelsea player and in my mind there is the will to continue to work with him and to try to improve. Then I don't know if the player decides to take another solution or if he wants to play with regularity. You don't know, it can happen.

"But at the same time in my mind there is tomorrow to continue to work with all my players and try to improve everyone. I think if you are in a team like Chelsea and before you arrive in this type of team you know you have to challenge and this is a big challenge.

"You find a lot of good players. Otherwise you decide to stay in a medium team or low team and probably you can play every game. But I think that every single player that decides to come to Chelsea, they must be prepared to have this type of challenge."

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