New Chelsea boss Antonio Conte believes that the club’s players can improve a lot and eventually reach the level of the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.


Chelsea finished 10th in the Premier League table after a terrible defence of their title and the Italian coach has insisted he will do his best to improve the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Willian, the club’s reigning Player of the Year.

“Chelsea have players who can become top, top, top players,” he said after a 2-0 preseason defeat to Rapid Vienna. “These players, with work, can still improve a lot.

“Because now we have players, fantastic players, who have great talent but in this moment the world doesn’t think they are the same level as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo or Paul Pogba.

“But in our squad there are players who, with work, can improve a lot and reach this level. I’m sure about this. It’s important that the players understand they must work to show that ‘Now I am a top player, but I want to become top, top, top, top and want to stay there.’

“The mentality is important. The heart is important. Patience and the will to improve are very important. And in this case it’s important for the manager to take the best players and try to improve them.”

Hazard is one who will be on Conte’s radar. The Belgian winger was voted PFA Player of the Year in the 2014-15 campaign after registering 14 goals and nine assists in 38 Premier League appearances to inspire Chelsea to the title, but was a shadow of that player as he struggled for form and fitness last season and Conte admits that reviving him is one of his top priorities.

“Last season was bad for all the players — it’s incredible that Chelsea finished 10th in the table,” the Italian said. “The habit of Chelsea is to win the title or to stay till the end of the season fighting to win the title, to play in the Champions League.

“And last season it was incredible, not only for Hazard but for other players also. It’s important for us to recover Hazard in the best condition: technique, tactical, physical, overall and with the good mentality.

“But I spoke with him and I’m very happy. I’m pleased to train a fantastic player like him and also the other players. It’s important for me next season to create the right spirit in the team and with great organisation, a great physical condition we can have a good season.”