Chelsea signed Danny Drinkwater to bring balance to midfield unit, says Antonio Conte

Chelsea signed Danny Drinkwater to bring balance to midfield unit, says Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte says he signed Danny Drinkwater because he realised he required a different type of quality for the balance of his Chelsea midfield, although he also noted how valuable it could be to re-unite the English international and former Leicester City teammate N’Golo Kante as a force.

Drinkwater’s first appearance following his £35m move to the champions could coincidentally come at the King Power stadium, where Conte’s side travel to on Saturday. The 27-year-old is still expected to get a good reception, having been part of Leicester's historic title-winning side in 2015/16. Conte had trailed Drinkwater for much of the summer, eventually getting him right at the end of the window, and his comments explain why he was so interested.

“I think Danny is a really good player,” Conte stated. “As you said, two years ago together with N'Golo they won the league. They played every game and showed [themselves] to be strong. I think he's a really good player who can help us. For me, the midfielders are very important because I need midfielders with specific characteristics. Danny has those. Now it's important for him to be 100 per cent fit, to recover the best physical condition and adapt himself to our style of football, and then he will be ready to advance and play with Chelsea.”

Although Drinkwater has recovered from a recent thigh injury, Conte doubted whether he or the similarly returned Eden Hazard would be able to play 90 minutes against Leicester. It is still Chelsea's strongest available squad of the season so far, with Gary Cahill the only player definitely out as he serves the final game of his suspension from the red card against Burnley on the opening day.

“Danny, I think, we are working with him and trying to make him in the best physical condition," Conte continued. "But it's normal when there is a transfer window and you know there is a possibility for you to go into another team, it's not simple. Not simple. But he's a good buy for us and is working very well. This week he improved a lot his physical condition and he is in the squad for Leicester game, but I don't know honestly when he will be ready to play.”

Conte also feels that the other new signing, Davide Zappacosta, is ready to step in straight away due to his knowledge of the manager’s system from the Italian national side. The wing-back was also a deadline-day purchase, from Torino for just over £25m.

“Davide Zappacosta played the game against Israel with the national team and showed he's in good physical condition. He knows very well which is my style of football, which is my idea. For this reason, it's more simple for him to adapt himself to our style of football.”

“Now it's time to work together, to work with these new players, to adapt them quickly in our style of football.”

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