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Conte remains happy with his misfiring and still learning ‘two-and-a-half strikers’ at Chelsea

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Chelsea v Everton - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

On Friday, Antonio Conte spent a few minutes talking about Alexis Sánchez after the question of the Arsenal man’s future was posed to him. Conte’s answers were hardly earth-shattering, but he did reveal that he once tried to sign the former Udinese standout when he was still at Juve. Combined with Conte laying on praise fairly thick and heavy (a la Sanchez’s international teammate Vidal), the narrative of Conte pushing for Alexis materialized quickly. Conte of course also said that there is little point in doing that since Manchester City can outspend anybody, but that’s far too nuanced for the rumor mill.

Alexis isn’t a natural center forward however, despite Wenger’s attempts to use him there, and it’s that position that may be next in the rumor mill spotlight. Batshuayi’s future could possibly have a short-term loan it, though if Conte’s to be taken at his word, he’s still happy with the 23-year-old’s commitment and improvement.

“[Batshuayi] is a young player who had only one season that he played with regularity for Marseille. Me and the club know very well this type of situation. We must have patience to understand there is a process. We are ready to face this process.”

Obviously, Michy hasn’t played all that much this season, but Conte has warned that he will face competition for first-team spot anywhere he goes.

“Competition is normal in life. When you are in a great club, you have to exploit the competition. When you are in a great club, it means you have many good players in the same place.

“We have two-and-a-half strikers, because sometimes I use Hazard in that position. He is a striker but not a point of reference, more to move around another big striker.

“In this case there is Batshuayi to try to put a bit of pressure on, and to create in my mind a bit of doubt. There is competition. But don’t forget we are talking about two young players. For Morata this is the first full season for him. He is learning a lot from this experience. He is learning to deal with this type of situation.”

Some of those might sound like rather lame excuses, but Conte claims that he is indeed happy with the options has’ got int he squad. (Of course he would say taht.)

“I like in different moments of the season to speak with every player, to speak about improvement during training sessions, and about what we can do together to improve him. Alvaro is a really good guy. I have no problem with him. This period is normal. Every player can have this type of situation. When the striker doesn’t score, we can say he is in trouble, but for me the most important thing is he has to continue to work for the team, and to continue to do what I ask of him during the game.

“The most important thing is that I am happy. In this case, I am happy for him, for Michy and for the rest of the team.”

-Antonio Conte; source : Chelsea FC

Happy happy happy! (At least in public. Conte’s unlikely to complain to us; he complains up, not out.)

Hopefully three points richer happy, too, after today’s game.