Chelsea manager Antonio Conte praised midfielder Oscar following a two-goal performance in a 3-1 win over AC Milan in the club’s International Champions Cup finale on Wednesday.
After the West London club’s 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid in Michigan on Saturday, reports emerged suggesting that Conte was dissatisfied with the Brazilian’s effort. Oscar started the match but was substituted at half-time with Chelsea trailing the European champions 3-0.
But the manager spoke highly of Oscar’s contributions on the pitch, following a 30-minute cameo at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
“Oscar is an important player, and I think the season when Chelsea won the title, [he] played a fantastic season,” Conte said in a news conference on Wednesday. “I think that Oscar is a good player with great talent and he can improve. He can improve a lot, I think, but I am seeing in him a good attitude, a good will.”
As news of the manager’s disappointment in Oscar emerged over the weekend, so did a link to a £30 million move to Inter Milan. However Conte’s words regarding Chelsea’s No. 8 suggested that Oscar will be a part of the Italian’s team going into the new season.
“I said before to wait to judge the player, to see the player in [the preseason], and then to try the right solution for this team,” Conte said. “I think this match told me a lot about this, also about the players who we keep and who can go on loan and who we can sell. For me, today it was important because I had the idea more clear than before.”
Chelsea have carried 30 players on their tour of the United States, leaving Conte with several decisions to make regarding which players will remain with the club, which players will go on loan and which players have no future at Stamford Bridge.
Speculation persists that Colombian midfielder Juan Cuadrado could return to Italy. Loic Remy’s future was specifically mentioned in Wednesday’s news conference. Conte himself has already hinted that Matt Miazga may need to seek out a loan to ensure he receives regular first-team minutes in the upcoming season.
Conte is expected to make the final decisions on his squad’s future when the club arrive back in London. “Now we go back to London and it’s important for me, for the club, to talk and to take the decision about the players,” he said. “Now I think to have the ideas very clear compared to two weeks ago, it’s normal. It’s normal to take a decision about these players.”