05 Jan Everton midfielder Ross Barkley close to making Chelsea switch
Ross Barkley is closing in on a move to Chelsea from Everton.
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte said the 24-year-old is near to completing a move to Stamford Bridge, but would not confirm the deal.
Conte said: “If there is news, the club will inform you. This is the right way.”
Conte was prepared to discuss Barkley’s qualities, though.
“We are talking about an English player, a young player. He has good prospects for Chelsea. I think the club decided for this investment also for his contract.
“I think this is a good opportunity for the club to buy this player. For sure he is a good prospect for Chelsea. But I repeat: for news, the club will inform you.”
England midfielder Barkley is out of contract at Goodison Park at the end of this season, after rejecting a new deal with the Toffees.
A move to Chelsea on transfer deadline day in August did not materialise, but Barkley is now set to join for a cut-price fee, reported to be in the region of £15million.
Barkley has yet to play this season due to a hamstring injury, but he is nearing match fitness. May’s loss to Arsenal is likely to have been the last Toffees appearance for the Everton academy graduate.
Barkley has made 150 Premier League appearances for Everton, scoring 21 goals.
Conte added: “Don’t forget he had a bad injury, he had surgery. This player has not played in seven months.
“In case this player signs for the club, we must have great patience. We have to hope to recover him very quickly, to try to help us for the rest of the season.”
Conte declined to address rumours West Ham striker Andy Carroll was a target, saying transfers were not his remit.
He added: “The recruitment is not my job. The club try to do the best for this team, to try to improve this team.”
Conte, whose side play at Norwich in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, responded to comments from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
Wenger accused Eden Hazard of diving to earn a penalty in Wednesday’s 2-2 Premier League draw, but Conte reckons other decisions went the Gunners’ way.
Conte said: “I think if Arsene Wenger watched the game again, (he would) understand he was very lucky during the game for the referee decisions.”
As for Mourinho, who has had two spells as Chelsea boss, Conte responded to the Portuguese apparently calling him – and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp – a “clown” for his energetic show on the touchline.
Conte said: “I think he has to see himself in the past, maybe he was speaking about himself in the past. Maybe sometimes I think that someone forgets what’s said in the past, which is his behaviours.”