LONDON: Everton and England midfielder Ross Barkley are closing in on a move from Goodison Park to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said on Friday.
Conte would not confirm the deal but suggested the player’s move was close to completion, talking about the qualities of the 24-year-old.
“If there is news, the club will inform you,” Conte told the press ahead of his side’s FA Cup third-round tie away against Norwich on Saturday. “This is the right way.”
“We are talking about an English player, a young player,” he added. “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.”
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 £15 million (US$20 million, 17 million euros).
Barkley, who has made 150 Premier League appearances for Everton, scoring 21 goals. He has yet to play this season due to a hamstring injury, but is nearing match fitness.
“Don’t forget he had a bad injury, he had surgery,” Conte said. “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.”--AFP