Conte insists Morata can become world’s best striker

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has tipped club-record signing Alvaro Morata to become one of the world’s best strikers as his side prepare for their Champions League showdown with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Morata has scored 10 goals for the Blues since joining the Stamford Bridge ranks from Real Madrid for an initial £58m in July, including a strike in the reverse fixture at Wanda Metropolitano in September.

There were suggestions in October that Morata was unsettled and regretted his move to London. Those claims were quashed by both player and manager and Conte believes there are no limits to what Morata can achieve in his career.

“Alvaro is very happy to play for Chelsea and I am very happy to have a player like him,” said the Italian. “For Alvaro this is the first season to play with regularity. He is showing to be a great striker.

“He has a lot of room for improvement and can be one of the best strikers in the world.”

Another player Conte was keen to shower praise upon was Morata’s fellow countryman Cesc Fabregas. Former Arsenal skipper Fabregas has started 18 matches so far this season, compared to just four by the same stage last term.

“I think Cesc at the start of the last season did not play a lot, but I was very happy because through work he tried to change my mind and it happened,” added Conte.

“He was very important for us to win the title last season. In this season he has continued to work very hard and he’s shown me great commitment, great behaviours.

“I think that the coach has to make the best decision for the team. I tried to make the best decision. In this season he is playing with regularity, he is performing well and I hope in the future to continue in this way.”

Fabregas, meanwhile, admitted he was concerned that he was destined for the Stamford Bridge exit 12 months ago. He said: “I would be lying if I say I wasn’t worried.

“I wasn’t playing, I wasn’t really part of his initial plans and at that point you can do two things. You can just give up and accept you are not going to be part of the team or the club in the future.

“The other is what I did. Put your head down and be humble, show him that he’s wrong, that he can trust you, that you can play in this time. Every time I had an opportunity I gave my all.”

Victory over Atletico would guarantee Chelsea, who have already qualified for the competition’s knockout stage, top spot in Group C. If Roma fail to beat Qarabag in their final group match, Chelsea can afford to lose and still come top.

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