Alvaro Morata “has to improve” fitness, says Antonio Conte

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Alvaro Morata has only been training at Chelsea for a handful of days but the Spanish striker is already acutely aware of what Antonio Conte demands.

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The reigning Premier League champs have lost 3-2 to Bayern Munich and 2-1 to Inter Milan in their International Champions Cup games in Singapore and how now returned to the UK ahead of their FA Community Shield clash against Arsenal at Wembley this Sunday.

Morata, 24, played a part in a Michy Batshuayi goal on his debut against Bayern Munich but the $90 million signing from Real Madrid was sluggish in the defeat to Inter Milan.

Via the Sun, Morata has been warned about his fitness by Conte after his first start against Inter.

“Morata is just starting to train with us. He has to improve his condition a lot to adapt quickly into our team,” Conte said. “He is working well but it has been only five days. Today, he tried to do his best but for sure he has to improve.”

How much can we read into this? A little.

Conte is known to be an incredibly demanding individual on the training pitch and with Chelsea back in European action this season and expected to push hard to win the UEFA Champions League, the Italian knows he must juggle the demands of training and increased games expertly if he’s going to have anywhere close to the level of success he had in his debut campaign in England.

There have been some positives for Conte this offseason to suggest Morata may not be needed right away.

While Morata has adapted to life at Chelsea slowly, Batshuayi has flourished in the lone central role with Diego Costa out of the picture as he’s yet to return for preseason with Conte aiming to move him on before the transfer window closes. Batshuayi has scored five goals during four preseason games (two each against Fulham and Arsenal, plus his strike against Bayern) to suggest he could be the main man up top to start the season.

Morata may well be deployed on the left early in the campaign with Pedro recovering from “multiple fractures” in his face, plus Eden Hazard unable to start the season after ankle surgery.

In short, this is probably a less than subtle message from Conte to Morata: get fit, fast, because we need you to contribute heavily from day one.

Morata’s honeymoon period — if there even is one of those anymore for new star signings — is officially over.