Ross Barkley is not yet officially a Chelsea player, but all signs seem to point to that being simply a matter of time. The 24-year-old was set to undergo a medical at Cobham today after accelerated talks between the two clubs and the player’s representatives hashed out a cut-rate £15m deal over the past few days. So while Conte does not like to talk about other team’s players, Barkley is almost a Chelsea player at this point, and there was little reason to keep disguising things.
One thing that Conte insisted on pointing out was that he doesn’t announce signings, but beyond that, had a few nice word for the incoming player, while also subjecting him already to the usual lines about hard work, improvement, physical condition, and patience.
“We are talking about an English player, a young player, with good prospects for Chelsea. It’s a good opportunity for the club to buy this player. He’s a good prospect but, for news, the club will inform you.
“He’s very young, I think he has a lot of space for improvement, he’s very strong physically with good technique.
“He’s a good prospect but it’s very important to understand when he can recover from his injury. He had a bad injury, he had surgery and he hasn’t played for seven months. In case the player signs for the club we must have great patience and, at the same time, hope to recover him very quickly so he can help us for the rest of the season.
“It’s the club that sign the players, not me. Recruitment is not my job. The club try to do their best to improve the team. I’m a coach and I give my opinion if the club ask me something. Then there is the club who decide if a player arrives here, or whether to buy or sell.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
That last paragraph was actually a response to a question about the Andy Carroll silliness, which has taken on a life of its own, as such things are wont to do, since first started by The Sun yesterday morning.
As far as Barkley’s concerned, it’s tough to tell what Conte’s actual thoughts about this signing might be. The true test will be just how quickly and how much Barkley ends up playing. But as Conte points out, this is a great opportunity for the club to get the player we had already been coveting in the summer (and tracking for years), ahead of other rivals, and for a great price. There are plenty of questions about his actual quality, his prospects, and his ability to contribute, but that’s where a great coach like Conte can do wonders.