Speaking to the media ahead of tomorrow night’s friendly against WAC RZ Pellets, Antonio Conte reiterated his happiness at the way his players have been training since he arrived. He also discussed the ongoing recovery of Kurt Zouma, the return of more of his squad today and the future of Diego Costa.
The team hotel in Velden was the setting for Conte’s first pre-match press conference as Chelsea boss with a mix of local and British journalists in attendance. Having been welcomed by the local tourism board and the general manager of the hotel, Conte began by thanking our hosts for the great conditions the players and staff have found in Carinthia, a location he described as ‘beautiful and peaceful’.
Conte then gave his verdict on how the first week of training under his guidance has gone.
‘I am very happy because I am finding the players with the right attitude and the right behaviour,’ Conte said.
‘They are great workers and this is very important because we need to have a bit of time to go into a new idea of football, and a new method of work with different tactical, physical and mental aspects.
‘It’s also important to have a bit of time for me to know the players and for the players to know me. In the Euros I had a finished team. Now we are building. In this moment it’s normal I have a bit of difficulty with this change because with Chelsea we are beginning our season.
‘I am getting to know a lot of new players and I’m bringing them a new idea of football. We need a bit of time but I saw a lot of positive things this week.
‘And then today Fabregas, Pedro, Cuadrado, Cahill and Azpi arrived,’ added Conte.
‘This is important because I need to have the complete group to work, and to transfer my ideas to all the players.’
With regards to Juan Cuadrado, Conte stressed once more that he was very keen to work with him this season and was looking forward to doing so. Conte said Michy Batshuayi has arrived in good physical condition, while the boss has been delighted to see Kurt Zouma out training with the group as our French defender continues his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury.
‘Today he started the aerobic work for the first time,’ Conte revealed.
‘When we have a very strong situation, no [he is not involved]. We wait because we must respect the right time for him.
‘Now we are preparing for him to go and train when there aren’t very strong situations. He has also started to play our idea of football when we have the ball, and also without the ball.
‘We know he is recovering but I know he needs more time to recover. It’s important we don’t push him. I had the same injury and I know from experience when the player is ready to go.’
Recent press speculation has linked Diego Costa with a move away from Stamford Bridge but Conte was adamant the striker’s future is in SW6.
‘Diego is our player. He is a fantastic player, a player with a fundamental importance and there is no problem. He stays with us, he is working very hard, he is very happy to work with his teammates and with me in the new idea of football. He is a Chelsea player.
‘He is an important player, a very strong player, one of the best in the world, and I am sure when he goes into our ideas he will score a lot of goals for us.’
Tomorrow’s game against WAC RZ Pellets is live on Chelsea TV in the UK and Ireland. Kick-off is at 7pm UK time.