Conte lauds Kante signing – after debut defeat to Austrians shows just why Chelsea need him
New manager goes down 2-0 in his first game in charge
Chelsea coach Antonio Conte hailed the signing of N’Golo Kante after the France international joined from Premier League champions Leicester City on Saturday.
Kante, 25, became Chelsea’s second major signing this month, following the arrival of Michy Batshuayi from Marseille, after the Blues paid a reported £32 million (HK$327 million) for the defensive midfielder.
“I want to say Kante was a target and for this reason I’m very happy the club bought the player,” said Conte, after watching Chelsea lose 2-0 to Rapid Vienna in his first match in charge.
“He’s a good player. He has good technique, fantastic stamina and I like this type of player. If you want to win then a team needs this type of player that works hard for the team.
“All together we are working to improve the squad. We know we have to but we prefer to wait and go for our targets, rather than go with emotion and take the players who don’t adapt to our idea of football.”
Conte fielded an experienced side with John Terry named as captain for Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Rapid in the Austrian capital.
The Italian also handed starts to several first-team regulars including Diego Costa, Nemanja Matic, Willian and Branislav Ivanovic, but the English giants fell behind when Brazilian teenager Joelinton scored after just eight minutes.
Chelsea academy product Ola Aina fired against the post in the second half. However, Rapid struck again through Tomi Correa on 82 minutes to wrap up the victory.
“This is the first game for us but I knew it would be very difficult after three days of double training,” said Conte.
“I think it was a bit normal to meet these difficulties in the game, but I don’t like to lose and it’s the same for my players.”
Conte, who steered an unfancied Italy side into the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 before losing to Germany on penalties, said Chelsea’s ultimate goal this season was to challenge for the title after a lowly 10th-place finish last term.
“We’ll work very hard because we want to come back and compete for the title until the end of the season. I know there is a lot of work to do but we are ready,” he said.