Antonio Conte has suggested that Davide Zappacosta might adjust to life at Chelsea quicker than Danny Drinkwater despite the latter’s Premier League appearance.
Midfielder Drinkwater, signed from Leicester on deadline day, is in Chelsea’s squad for Saturday’s game against his former club.
So too is defender Zappacosta, who was signed from Torino and previously played under Blues boss Conte for Italy.
And while Drinkwater has not played so far this season, Zappacosta is fully fit and featured for his country this week.
“Danny – we are working with him and we are trying to make him in the best physical condition,” said Conte. “It was a good buy for us and he is working well with us this week.
“Danny is in the squad for the Leicester game but I don’t know when he will be ready to play.
“Davide played a game against Israel and it shows he is in good physical condition.
“He also worked with me with the national team and he knows very well my style of football.
“For this reason it is more simple to adapt to our style of football.”
Conte also confirmed that the fit-again Eden Hazard is in Chelsea’s squad for the Leicester game.
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Antonio Conte says Chelsea must have plan for next summer
Antonio Conte warned Chelsea they must draw up a clear transfer plan for next summer with the deadline moved forward.
Conte has made little secret of his frustration this summer when the Premier League champions were still scrambling for players at the end of August.
They missed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fernando Llorente, who moved elsewhere, and Ross Barkley, who stayed at Everton.
They did sign Davide Zappacosta and Danny Drinkwater on the deadline to boost the squad but the manager will expect a different approach next year.
‘If you have a plan and your ideas are very clear, I don’t see a problem,’ said Conte. ‘If you wait until the end of the transfer market, you could have problems.
‘If you have a clear plan, it is not important to wait until the end of the window.
‘If you decide in the right time that these players are to stay in your squad, I don’t see any problems about this.’
Premier League clubs have agreed to close the summer transfer window before the season starts next year, even though the market will still be open in other countries.
‘It is a good decision,’ said Conte. ‘The transfer market is always a very difficult period above all for the coach.
‘You stay and wait for new players and sometimes you lose your players. I don’t love this period. For me, if this period is shorter it is better.’
During the summer, Conte pleaded for more signings as he planned a campaign on four fronts.
Missing out on Oxlade-Chamberlain, Barkley and Llorente was a blow but he refused to criticise Chelsea’s deal-makers.
‘The club tried to do its best in the transfer market,’ said Conte. ‘Sometimes you are able to buy. Sometimes you are not able to buy, for many reasons. But I think the club tried to do its best during the transfer market.
‘Now the window is closed and it is time to work with these players. I’m very happy to work with the players we have. The transfer window is closed and is the past for us.’
Asked if he thought he had the players required to pursue his goals, Conte added: ‘This is very difficult to answer. We have to wait until the end of the season, then we’ll see.’
He dismissed the notion he was frozen out of the negotiations with Barkley after he told Oxlade-Chamberlain he saw him as a wing-back and pushed the England international towards Liverpool.
‘I don’t like to speak about players of other teams because it is a lack of respect,’ said Conte. ‘What I read about this issue was ridiculous.’
Zappacosta and Drinkwater are in the squad for the game at Leicester on Saturday but the prospect of a dream debut for Drinkwater at the King Power Stadium seems remote.