Oscar is an important player for Chelsea, insists Antonio Conte
By Peter Gilbert
Last Updated: 18/11/16 2:24pm
Antonio Conte has insisted out-of-favour midfielder Oscar has a part to play in his Chelsea squad.
Oscar has dropped down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge and has not featured in Conte's starting line-up in the Premier League since the 2-1 home defeat to Liverpool in September.
The Brazil international has made just two substitute appearances since Conte switched to his favoured 3-4-3 formation at the start of last month - a change which has seen the Blues win five league matches on the trot, including a 5-0 thrashing of Everton just before the international break.
Inter Milan are said to be leading the chase for Oscar, who joined Chelsea from Internacional for £20m in 2012 and is under contract until 2019, but Conte has stressed the 25-year-old is going nowhere and has role to play with the Blues.
"Oscar's future is Chelsea. For me he is an important player in my squad. He is in good form.
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"It is logical that I have to choose the starting XI every week but Oscar is a great player and, for me, he stays in Chelsea.
"It's important send this message to all. He will stay with us because I consider him an important player."
Chelsea travel to Middlesbrough on Sunday with a fully-fit squad.
"I have all the players available," added Conte. "They are in good form. Diego Costa had a bit of an injury, after the Everton game, but he started to train with us on Wednesday. His physical condition is good but there is also tomorrow to see the situation. At the moment, he can play. Eden [Hazard] is fully fit too. He recovered very well."
Conte and Eden Hazard completed an awards double by winning the manager and player awards for October.
"I am pleased for Eden. He is playing fantastic football and is working very well during the training session, showing a great attitude and commitment. He is a fantastic player in this moment and is working a lot for the team. It's fantastic when a player with this talent puts his work into the team.
"We have to go step by step with the team. If we want to compare Eden with the top players, it's not the right moment. He has the potential to do great things in his career but it's important now that he is putting his best into the team, and it's great for us."
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