Soccer

Conte surprised by Christensen quality

Cape Town – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says he wasn’t expecting defender Andreas Christensen to carve out a starting spot so quickly.

The Blues recalled the Danish centre-back from a two-year loan spell with Borussia Mönchengladbach in which he impressed, but it seemed unlikely he would be an automatic starter at Stamford Bridge.

The 21-year-old hardly had to bide his time, before given a chance to replace David Luiz in Conte’s three-man backline, and he has now made 14 appearances this season.

"His performance was amazing," Conte said, recalling the first time he selected Christensen.

"Every time I decided to give him the opportunity to play, he played with an amazing performance. These performances convinced me that Christensen has to play with regularity.

"Christensen is maybe the best surprise from the start of this season, despite his young age. I think that, for us, he's been the best surprise: for me, the club, his teammates, the fans.

"It's not simple to see this composure, this calmness in a young player. Don't forget, he played big games with great calm and great focus and concentration.

"We must be happy because, I think, Chelsea found a player who can have the same career as some of the best defenders here.

"I hope that Christensen helps me to make sure that happens. He's a serious person, always committed in training sessions. I can predict for him a fantastic career."

The Blues will face Bournemouth in the League Cup at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Kick-off is at 21:45 (SA time).

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