Nacho reveals concern over Liverpool Champions League final threat

Charlie Adam

Antonio Conte is not convinced that missing out on Champions League football will hinder Chelsea next season, the coach offering a reminder they won the title in 2016-17 after finishing 10th.

No team had won the Champions League in back-to-back seasons since it was rebranded from the European Cup before Cristiano Ronaldo and co. managed to do so previous year.

Liverpool host Brighton and Hove Albion, while Chelsea travel to Newcastle United as the English top flight draws to a close on Sunday.

The former Chelsea star has scored 43 and assisted 15 in 50 games for Jurgen Klopp's side, a total that means he directly contributes to more than a goal a game, an astonishing record.

But Conte suggested a top-four spot is not quite as important as some claim, particularly from a recruitment perspective.

"It was different, but we worked hard and won". Now probably we can finish fifth thinking you have an advantage than [if you were] finishing tenth. "They were eliminated in the last 16 (of the Champions League) against PSG". It's not automatic that you finish every season in the top four'.

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'You must know that there is this possibility, because you play in a strong league. For this reason, you have to know this and prepare in the right way. Six top teams at the start of season are ready to fight for places in the Champions League.

Conte has found the going far tougher this time around with Chelsea destined to miss out on Champions League qualification unless Liverpool lose at home to Brighton on Sunday. In the past it has happened the same.

Chelsea are fifth ahead of tomorrow's final game of the Premier League season at Newcastle and in the FA Cup final with Manchester United on May 19.

"I've been working with him for a year and I've progressed a lot under him but it's really up to the club management, up to him and his entourage but he hasn't said anything".

"So it was always in my mind to come back, and I had two great seasons in Rome, but I said to myself everyone was telling me no don't come back but it was always in my mind to come back to prove them wrong, so, yeah".

Conte expects to have goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois back available after his untimely absence from Wednesday's frustrating 1-1 draw against Huddersfield with a back injury.

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