Antonio Conte believes Ross Barkley is a “good prospect” for Chelsea, after confirming the midfielder is close to completing a move from Everton to Stamford Bridge.
Sky sources understand Barkley underwent a medical with Chelsea on Thursday ahead of his proposed move to the Premier League champions.
Sky Sports News understand the Everton midfielder and his representatives are at Stamford Bridge finalising the transfer.
Barkley came close to joining Chelsea for £35m during the summer transfer window before the deal collapsed and Conte is looking forward to working with the England international.
“We are talking about an English player, a young player, he is a good prospect for Chelsea,” said Conte.
“I think that the club decided for this investment. This is a good opportunity for the club to buy this player. For sure, it is a good prospect for Chelsea.
“He is very young, he has a lot of space for improvement. He is very strong physically, has good technique.”
Barkley has not featured for Everton this season after undergoing hamstring surgery and Conte believes the midfielder must be given enough time to properly recover before returning to first-team duties.
“He is a good prospect but at the same time it will be very important to understand, if he signs for the club, that he has to recover from his injury,” added Conte.
“Don’t forget he had a bad injury, he had surgery, he has not played for seven months.
“We must have great patience but at the same time we have to hope to recover him very quickly and he can try to help us for the rest of the season.”
Conte refused to comment on reports linking West Ham striker Andy Carroll with a move to Chelsea.
“As I’ve said before, I don’t know,” Conte said. “I gave my opinion to the club but the club then decides the players we can buy or we can sell.”
Speaking to Sky Italy earlier this week, Conte claimed that he is currently working under an “austerity programme” at Chelsea and the former Juventus manager confirmed he does not have the final say with regards to transfers at Stamford Bridge.
“It is the club that signs the players, not me. Recruitment is not my job,” said Conte. “The club try to do the best for this team and try to improve this team.
“I am a coach and I give my opinion if the club asks for it. But it is the club that decides on the players.”
However, Conte insists he is happy at Chelsea and played down rumours linking Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone with the managerial role at Stamford Bridge.
“This is my job and there are a lot of rumours,” said Conte. “This season there is a lot of speculation but it is normal. When you are an important coach this is your life.”