Conte: Central figures

Different players may occupy the centre-forward position for Chelsea over the course of a season but the role remains the same Antonio Conte has explained, prior to the latest challenge for the forward line of breaking down the Stoke defence in Saturday afternoon’s match.

Michy Batshuayi was the most recent in action and he bagged a hat-trick in the cup win over Nottingham Forest midweek and Alvaro Morata has been the primary choice in the Premier League. Last season it was Diego Costa.

‘I like to ask for a type of work from my striker,’ said Conte. ‘For me, the number 9 position is very important because he is a point of reference for the play. Last season, Diego Costa played well and this season, we have changed the striker and we have Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi and another option is Eden Hazard, who last season played like a number 9 twice, but I ask specific work from my striker.

‘Every single player was very important last season,’ he added. ‘We won the league and it is was a big surprise and also reached the final of the FA Cup, so for this reason every single player performed in a fantastic way last season and I want to thank every player who played.’

On Diego Costa and his replacement in the squad, Morata, Conte said: ‘We are talking about two really good players who are really strong, but I ask the same work from Alvaro and Michy and also when Eden plays this position.

‘For Alvaro it is the right moment to have this type of situation, to be the striker in a great team. In his previous seasons with Juventus and Real Madrid, he played but not every game, not regularly, and he now has the right age to have this type of responsibility.

‘He is a complete player, good technically, strong physically and he has a lot of room for improvement. Morata is 24 years old so there is the possibility to work with him for 10 years.

‘During the training sessions he is very committed and his behaviour is always fantastic. He is a very polite player and I like this and also I like that he is a good finisher and he feels goals in every moment. He is very good at understanding which is the best position in the box to receive the ball and understanding where the ball is going.’


CONTE: We are ready for these three tough games