August 11, 2017

Conte: Morata Needs Time  (Sky Sports)

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte has admitted new forward Alvaro Morata needs to be given time to adapt to his Chelsea team-mates and to English football.

Chelsea begin the defence of their Premier League title when Burnley visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday and new £70m signing Morata is set to make his top-flight debut for the Blues.

The 24-year-old club-record signing scored 20 goals for Real Madrid last term in all competitions, despite being used mainly as a substitute, and also won La Liga and the Champions League.

"He is starting to understand what I want from him during games," Conte said. "He needs time. The striker is an important role. This role is the most difficult to adapt to then the other roles."

Morata's position in the starting line-up is even more crucial in the continued absence of out-of-favour compatriot Diego Costa.

Belgium's Michy Batshuayi is the only experienced alternative for the Italian. "No news, no news," Conte added when questioned over the Costa situation before being asked when last season's leading scorer might return to the club.

A Chelsea spokesperson then intervened, saying: "Nothing to report on that."

Conte also claimed he was "not looking for sympathy" over the size of his squad after leading the Blues from 10th the previous campaign to the Premier League trophy in May.

But with a return to the Champions League resulting in additional fixtures, the Blues' squad size appears thin.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had an answer, pointing to Chelsea sending numerous players out on loan, but Conte insisted: "I'm not looking for sympathy of any coaches for this situation. This is my message.

"The situation is clear. If the club decide to send on loan players for their development it's because these players are not ready to play for Chelsea."

Conte kept his counsel on Chelsea's transfer business, with the summer window open until August 31.

He said: "It's simple. I think I'm the coach of this team. My aim is to try to improve my players, to try to improve my team.

"I repeat: my only task is to focus on the pitch, what happens on the pitch, during the training session to work with my players. This must be my focus during this period.

"The club knows very well what is my opinion. And then I repeat: the club is trying to do their best on the transfer market."

The Soccerlinks Hit List