Antonio Conte wants to turn Tiemoue Bakayoko into the next N'Golo Kante
Antonio Conte believes his work with N'Golo Kante over the last year has helped develop the player into the complete midfielder and the Chelsea manager expects Tiemoue Bakayoko to undergo a similar transformation over the coming months.
Bakayoko, signed for £40 million from Monaco in July after previously attracting the interest of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, is expected to line up alongside Kante in central midfield when Wenger's side visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Conte claims Kante has made significant strides under his direction ago and points to the progress made by the former Leicester City player as evidence of what Bakayoko can achieve.
“Baka is a good player but he’s 23 years old, don’t forget this, and he has a lot of room to improve tactically and also in the physical aspect,” said Conte.
“Above all if you are a midfielder, you need time to understand the right position. We try to play with an identity and if you want to give an identity to your team, every single player needs to know very well your idea of football. One of the boys: Tiemoue Bakayoko larks around with David Luiz Credit: Getty
“I think he’s very close to being totally involved in our idea of football. I think so. He can improve a lot with the ball. We are working about this aspect.
“We did the same with N’Golo when he arrived here. If you remember he was very, very good without the ball, to win the ball, to recover the ball. Now I think you can see a complete player with the ball, without the ball. Now he’s becoming better with the ball.
“We want to work in the same way to have this process with Baka. This will be better for him and for the team.” Revenge? Arsene Wenger inflicted one of the worst results of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea tenure Credit: Getty
Sunday’s meeting comes almost exactly a year since Wenger's side inflicted a crushing 3-0 defeat on Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium, a result Conte acknowledges marked a low point in his career.
The Italian's future was questioned but he reacted to defeat by switching to a back three, a move that acted as the catalyst for their title success – and for Arsenal it’s a big mountain with only two wins in the Premier league over other members of the top Six in the past five years.
Wenger said the closeness of the transfer deadline impacted on his team as they went down 4-0 to Liverpool three weeks ago. Four-ful: Arsene Wenger in despair during Liverpool 4 Arsenal 0 Credit: Action Images via Reuters
Arsenal did follow that with a convincing 3-0 victory over Bournemouth, and Wenger said of the Anfield performance: ” it is important to think, yes it was a bad game but it does not mean it will happen again it just means that we learn from defeat and every team during the season goes through a bad patch.”
After he saw his £70m move to Manchester City collapse, Alexis Sanchez returned to scoring form in the midweek win over Cologne, and Wenger is looking for more.
“We love Alexis. He is a special character but we love him and he is loved and accepted and he is happy here as well.”