As he prepares to unleash his in-form attack on Everton at the Bridge today, Antonio Conte has listed the elements that must all come together in order for a player to move into the ‘great’ category.
Pleasingly, the boss sees in Eden Hazard and Diego Costa two players who are moving in the right direction. Diego Costa is currently the Premier League’s top scorer as well as part of a team keeping out the goals, and Hazard at the moment is as prolific as at any stage of his career in England.
‘Now Eden Hazard is playing more close to the goal and he is participating more in offensive situations,’ Conte offers as an explanation for this.
‘This is better for him, this type of system that permits him to stay in these positions where he can finish easier compared with last year, and for this reason I want him to continue this way. We know his talent, he is fantastic player, and I have found out here he is a player working very well without the ball and working very well with the team.
‘I think the work of our strikers, it is the same with Diego, is appreciated by their team-mates. They are working very well for the team.’
Conte is not able to predict yet whether this will prove to be Hazard’s best season so far, but what is certain is he is pleased he can name our former player of the year in his side, rather than have to make plans to try to contain him as an oppoent, as he had to do on more than one occasion in the past. Now Conte is doing all he can to make sure the 25-year-old reaches his full potential.
‘I have experience in my career that when you have a great talent, it is important to support that with physical preparation and good organisation in the tactical aspect, and if you find all of these, you are a fantastic player. With only talent, it is very difficult to be the best. You must have good physical condition and good organisation in the team; all of these to help talent to become a complete footballer.
‘For the coach it is very important to find the best solution for all the players to improve them. You start with the system, find the right one to exploit the characteristics of your players, and also you have to find the right solution to work to improve the physical condition of your players.
In modern football you must have the talent and technique but you must run with intensity. You must have strength for the contact. For sure football has changed and here in England you play with supersonic intensity.’