Antonio Conte believes “it’s important” to give youth a chance and says he is baffled as to why more youngsters have not played in the Chelsea first team.
Conte has labelled the Blues’ academy as “fantastic” but has not explanation as to why few youngsters were afforded chances in the first team under previous managers.
The Italian has been impressed with youngsters such as Tammy Abraham, Dominic Solanke and Ruben Loftus-Cheek and he has already earmarked the latter into a new striking role after his efforts so far in pre-season.
Asked of his thoughts were on giving youngsters a chance, he told ESPN FC: “Yeah, it’s important. Because Chelsea has a fantastic academy. There are many players with a good prospect for Chelsea. I don’t know why in the past a few players have played with the first team.
“But I think that the academy is a great source for the manager of the first team. It’s important, also, that the young players must show to play in the first team. But I love to play with the young players and to improve them. It’s important to have good quality to improve and to show that a young player can play with the first team.
“I haven’t any problem with the choice to take a young player in the starting 11. For example, [Paul] Pogba. Pogba arrived at Juventus and he was only 18 years old and after three months he played in the starting 11.”
The former Juventus coach has also admitted the situation at Stamford Bridge is a bizarre one.
“The situation is very strange because two years ago Chelsea won the title in England. And last season we finished in 10th in the table and as a result [are] out of the Champions League, out of Europa league. Surely, this is not a good result for our great team like Chelsea. But I think also that now it’s important to forget, to forget the past and concentrate, focus on the present.
“[We must] work really hard in the present to build a great future for us, for the club, for the players, for me, for the fans, for all the people who work in Chelsea,” said Conte.
While there has been plenty of talk regarding which formation Conte will employ at Stamford Bridge, the 46-year-old has said that the personnel at his disposal will influence which system he opts for this campaign.
“In my mind there is an idea about what system we’ll play. We are working about this idea. It’s important for the coach when you arrive to understand the players and to understand every single player’s strength and their weakness. It’s important for me to exalt my players in their strengths and to try and cover their weakness, no?
“When you work with your player, you must prepare a good coat. It’s important because I can have an idea. For example, at Juventus I rode with my idea to continue the 4-2-4 [with which] I won two championships with Bari and Siena. And when I arrived [at Juventus] and I saw that it was [Andrea] Pirlo and [Arturo] Vidal, I understand we can’t play in this system, so I changed to 3-5-2, 3-3-4.
“It’s important to understand this and also it’s important to have principles of the play and then you must build, create a good team with a good idea of football.
“I adapt my idea of football to my players, not adapt my players in my idea of football… It’s important because there are others players that must play. The players are the most important things in football. I adapt my idea within my players,” added Conte.