Chelsea boss Antonio Conte explained the thinking behind Michy Batshuayi’s surprise debut in Wednesday’s 3-0 friendly win over Wolfsberger.
Conte’s reign began with a 2-0 defeat to Rapid Vienna at the weekend but a repeat rarely looked to be on the cards in the concluding match of their Austrian trip, with youngsters Bertrand Traore, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah all on target.
Belgium international forward Batshuayi, a big-money acquisition from Marseille, was not officially named among Conte’s substitutes but he emerged from the dugout to replace Diego Costa after 58 minutes.
“He has trained three days and I wanted to see if after these three days he understood some tactical aspects,” Conte said.
“He can improve a lot, he can become a strong forward, he is very young but with great talent and I am happy with him.”
There is growing speculation that Batshuayi might not be the last attacking addition at Stamford Bridge this close-season, with reports that Real Madrid have rejected a €75million Chelsea approach for Alvaro Morata.
Nevertheless, Conte refused to be drawn on the subject.
“About this situation I prefer to leave it with the club,” he told reporters.
“We know our targets and the most important thing is that, between me and the club, there is a great synergy on the transfer market.
“We know our targets and, for me, this is the most important thing. It’s not important to speak outside but, to keep the secret in this moment, I think is very important.”
In the meantime, Loftus-Cheek – generally deployed as a deep-lying midfielder during his fledgling career to date – has found himself playing further forward and won praise from his boss.
“Every manager has their own idea about a system of play. In this system, with two midfielders, Ruben can play close to the other forward but become a forward when we have the ball,” Conte added.
“He has the right characteristics to play in this position and he showed that today.”