Ox, Drinkwater and Barkley? Conte values English ‘core’

Date published: Sunday 27th August 2017 11:30

Antonio Conte has expressed his desire to have a “core of good English players” at Chelsea.

The Blues are often criticised for their inability to develop players from their youth system, with the now departed John Terry the last homegrown success story.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham and Nathaniel Chalobah have all been earmarked at one point as players with a potential first-team future, but the first two are out on loan, and Chalobah recently left for Watford due to a lack of playing opportunities.

The club are currently being linked with three English players – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal, Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater and Everton midfielder Ross Barkley – and Conte admits his dream is to manage a core of English players at Stamford Bridge.

“To have a core of English players, is important,” he said.

“But above all, to have a core of ‘good’ English players. Is it something I value? Yes, I do.

“If the young players are ready and are strong enough to play regularly, they can play.

“I put Paul Pogba, at 18, into the team at Juventus, for Claudio Marchisio.

“Don’t forget, too, for my first game in Serie A, I was only 16.

“So, I’m the first person open to do this because another coach did this with me.

“But, I repeat, you must have the possibilities to do this.

“Show me young players who deserve to play regularly for ­Chelsea, and I’m ready to pick them.

“I repeat, I like to work with young players.

“Last season, if you saw our squad, we had eight players from the ­academy and we won the league with eight players from the academy, and 14 or 15 senior players.”

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