Antonio Conte sends clear message to Willian about his Chelsea future
Antonio Conte tells Willian to accept his lack of playing time at Chelsea this season
Antonio Conte has told Willian that he must accept being on the bench until he finds his best form for Chelsea.
The Brazilian playmaker has found his first-team opportunities at Stamford Bridge to be somewhat restricted this season after having struggled to hold down a starting spot.
Willian started only six of Chelsea’s first 13 Premier League games but has been an impressive substitute whenever called upon by Conte.
The 29-year-old was the star of the show when he came off the bench to earn Chelsea a point in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool FC at Anfield last Saturday.
His lack of regular playing time has inevitably prompted some speculation about Willian’s future, and the uncertainty could continue as the January transfer window draws closer.
However, Conte insists that Willian must accept his situation as being part of life at a big club.
Speaking at his pre-match news conference ahead of Swansea’s trip to Stamford Bridge, Conte said: “Why are you asking me about Willian and not [Eden] Hazard at the start of the season, or Pedro the same?
“They have the same situation and every game I must make a decision. I repeat a player must be happy to stay at Chelsea, to play for Chelsea, to play for our fans.
“They must be happy if they start the game or start on the bench and then come on, but I think I have clever players to understand and accept this situation.
“I repeat: Hazard at the start of the season he accept this situation to stay on the bench before finding the right form, the same with Pedro, the same with Willian.
“When you are in a great team you have to accept this, at the same time you must be happy to stay in a great team.”
Chelsea return to Premier League action this weekend when they host Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime.
The Blues are aiming to try and defend their title, after having won it in style in Conte’s first campaign in charge last term.