David Luiz was offloaded to Paris Saint-Germain after the Portuguese ran out of patience with the lack of defensive discipline which characterised the Brazilian’s first spell at the club.
And, while there was never any question that Eden Hazard would be sold, the Belgian midfielder clashed several times with his old boss about his defensive work and was one of the players accused of getting Mourinho the sack last season.
On Sunday afternoon afternoon Luiz, Hazard and Mourinho meet again at Old Trafford and Conte wants more big performances as the Blues aim to take another step towards the title.
Conte, who re-signed Luiz from PSG last summer, said: “When David arrived in England, I heard a lot of bad things about him. Why was he coming back to Chelsea because, in the past, he had performed badly and was not a defender?
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“This was a great challenge for him, but also for me and when we decided to buy him, to take him back, we were sure we were taking a really good player. We have put him back as one of the best defenders in Europe and, I hope, in the world.”
Luiz clearly matured in Paris and since returning to Chelsea has been superb in Conte’s back three, alongside Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta.
To such an extent that many observers were surprised he didn’t make the shortlist for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award.
Conte added: “It’s more difficult for the defenders, no? For this reason, Paolo Maldini never won the Best Player in the World award.
“But this position, as a central player in three defenders, is perfect for David to play.
“He has good technique, he’s strong, can start our possession and has the personality to do this. He also has two really good defenders at his side, in Gary and Azpi, or Kurt Zouma, Nathan Ake or John Terry.”
Hazard, who won the PFA award two years ago, did make the shortlist alongside team-mate N’Golo Kante and the winner is expected to come from one of those two.
Conte added: “With or without the ball, Eden is working very well for the team. He is becoming a complete player.”