Mo­rata won’t be thrown in at the deep end, says coach Conte

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LON­DON: Chelsea’s record sign­ing Al­varo Mo­rata is un­likely to start the cham­pi­ons’ Premier League opener against Burn­ley to­day be­cause he has not ad­justed to their style, Blues man­ager An­to­nio Conte said.

Chelsea paid what Bri­tish me­dia said was an ini­tial £58 mil­lion for the for­mer Real Madrid striker as re­place­ment for out-of-favour Diego Costa, who has been told he can leave the club.

Last week, Mo­rata came on as a 74th-minute sub­sti­tute for Michy Bat­shuayi in the Com­mu­nity Shield penalty shootout de­feat to Ar­se­nal at Wem­b­ley and Conte said the 24-year-old is still not ready.

“Al­varo is work­ing well but he needs time to un­der­stand and adapt to our style of foot­ball, above all be­cause he’s a striker. He is start­ing to un­der­stand what I want from him dur­ing games,” Conte said.

The Ital­ian said that an­other of his sign­ings, An­to­nio Rudi­ger, “could start” against Burn­ley in place of the sus­pended Vic­tor Moses.

“He’s a good player, strong, good per­son­al­ity, tech­nique,” Conte said.

Pe­dro is also un­avail­able af­ter suf­fer­ing an an­kle in­jury against Ar­se­nal.

Conte said he be­lieved Chelsea, who have also signed mid­fielder Tiemoue Bakayako from Monaco, are a stronger side than last sea­son.

“I am pleased be­cause we are work­ing well with this team and this group of play­ers. I think we are bet­ter than last sea­son.

“At the start of this sea­son it’s sim­ple to tell that in this league there are six top teams who should be fight­ing for the ti­tle. But you know very well that there are surprises.”

Conte said there was “no news” on Costa, who is ex­pected to leave in the trans­fer win­dow.

Manch­ester City’s un­fa­mil­iar­ity with Brighton and Hove Al­bion can help Chris Hughton’s pro­moted side start their cam­paign with an up­set win, mid­fielder Solly March has said.

Brighton, who re­turned the top tier af­ter a 34-year ab­sence by fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the Cham­pi­onship, last hosted City in a 2008 League Cup tie.

“It’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge for every­body but we’ll take it in our stride, com­pete and we’ll sur­prise a few peo­ple,” March said. “City are prob­a­bly not go­ing to know as much about us as we do about them. It’s go­ing to be tough for them... Our fans get be­hind us and they’re go­ing to step it up even more be­cause they know we need them even more. We’re rar­ing to go.”

City have spent around £ 200 mil­lion to strengthen their squad in the close-sea­son with other ti­tle con­tenders in­clud­ing Chelsea and Manch­ester United also spend­ing heav­ily to bol­ster their teams.

March be­lieves that the high trans­fer fees are a re­flec­tion of the qual­ity in the league but says Brighton are not in­tim­i­dated by big­ger teams or wor­ried by the gen­eral con­sen­sus that they will be relegated af­ter just one sea­son.

“Some of the trans­fer fees are crazy but it shows how good these play­ers are. I hope I can prove I’m just as good as them. But there’s no fear,” he added.

Stoke City are close to sign­ing de­fender Bruno Martins Indi but the deal may not be com­pleted in time for him to fea­ture at Ever­ton tonight, man­ager Mark Hughes has said.

The 25- year- old Nether­lands in­ter­na­tional is hop­ing to make a per­ma­nent switch from Porto af­ter mak­ing 35 league ap­pear­ances for Stoke dur­ing a suc­cess­ful loan spell last sea­son.

“My un­der­stand­ing is it’s (the sign­ing) very close,” Hughes told a news con­fer­ence yes­ter­day. “All be­ing well, he should be with us to­day at some point and hope­fully we will get that done.”

Hughes also said the club turned down an en­quiry from Joe Allen’s for­mer side Swansea City for the mid­fielder.

“They just asked would we be will­ing to al­low him to leave and we said no,” Hughes added. “I think we have to re­spect that they came and did that and be­cause of the an­swer they got you’d like to think they will re­spect our po­si­tion.”

Stoke have lost sev­eral ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers in the cur­rent trans­fer win­dow, in­clud­ing mid­fielder Glenn Whelan, for­ward Marko Ar­nau­tovic and de­fender Phil Bard­s­ley.

Hughes has re­cruited Dar­ren Fletcher, Eric Maxim Choupo- Mot­ing and Kurt Zouma on loan from Chelsea but is still hop­ing to boost the squad fur­ther. – Reuters

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Chelsea’s Al­varo Mo­rata.

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