Antonio Conte has warned fans not to expect too much from new signing Ross Barkley early in his Chelsea career, admitting that the former Everton man has some integrating to do before he is ready to feature heavily for the Blues.
The 24-year-old was signed for just £15m last week, having turned down a £35m move to Stamford Bridge just a few months ago in the summer transfer window - though Conte's comments in the days leading up to the eventual move hinted that the player was being forced on him by the club.
Speaking after the weekend's 0-0 draw with Norwich after the transfer was completed, he said: “For sure, before playing we must be sure that he is into our idea of football. Otherwise it is a problem for him and it is a problem for the rest of the team.”
Asked when he expects Barkley - who has yet to play this season because of a hamstring injury - to be fully fit, Conte admitted: “Honestly, I don’t know. It is important for me to see him, to understand his physical condition, to improve his physical condition, to work with us, into our ideas. My hope is to have this player very quickly.”
He continued: “I think he can play in midfield, if we play with three midfielders, or No 10. Barkley is a creative player. This signing is a good signing for the club."
He also spoke about his new midfielder's chances of making Gareth Southgate's England squad for the summer's World Cup, adding: “We are talking about a player [Barkley] with great talent. I think we have five months to show he deserves a call with the national team for the World Cup. I hope, because it means he will do very well with us.”