Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has praised the Blues hierarchy for taking advantage of a "good opportunity" to sign Everton's Ross Barkley but has called for patience over the playmaker, who has not played this season due to a serious hamstring problem.
The Premier League champions have moved quickly to tie up a £15m deal for the 24-year-old, who was of interest to London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the summer. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was hoping to conclude a deal which would see Barkley arrive on a free transfer at the end of the season, but his frugal nature allowed Conte's side to make headway and swoop for a cut-price.
Confirmation of the Everton youth graduate's move has not yet been made public, but Conte all but confirmed Chelsea's signing of Barkley on Friday (5 January), discussing the England international's qualities while also calling for patience over a player who has not seen a minute of action so far this season.
"I think that if there is news then the club will inform you," Conte said in his press conference, per Football.London. "We are talking about an English player who is a good prospect for Chelsea. I think the club decided for this investment for the contract. It's a good opportunity to buy this player.
"He has a lot of space for improvement. He's strong physically and has good technique. He had a bad injury and surgery. He's not played for seven months. If the player signs for the club, we must have great patience."
There were suggestions that a move for Barkley, who rejected a lucrative contract offer from Everton last summer, would be followed by a surprise switch for West Ham United forward Andy Carroll, whose representatives have held initial talks with Chelsea officials.
Conte is searching for adequate cover for first-choice forward Alvaro Morata with Michy Batshuayi failing to cut the mustard during his reign in west London, but the former Italy manager said he is unaware of a move for towering striker Carroll, who scored his first goals of the season against West Bromwich Albion earlier this week.
"I don't know [about a move for Carroll]," the Chelsea boss said. "I gave my opinion to the club but the club then decides the players we can buy or sell.
"The club signs the players, not me. The club will do their best to improve this team. I'm a coach and I give my opinion if the club asks for something. The club then decide on who to buy or sell."