Mateo Kovacic has said he's adjusting well to life under new Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, claiming he is enjoying more freedom playing in his system.
The midfielder made a permanent switch from Real Madrid to Chelsea for £40 million (€45m/$51m) this summer after spending 2018-19 with the Blues on loan.
The 25-year-old was in the lineup on Saturday at Norwich, replacing the injured N'Golo Kante as the Blues won 3-2 at Carrow Road to give Lampard his first win as Chelsea manager.
Kovacic got the assist for Tammy Abraham's winning goal, and the Croatia international says he has been given more freedom under Lampard than he had under Maurizio Sarri last season.
"I am a Chelsea player now so I feel better about that," Kovacic said. "Last year was only a loan. I feel better and more confident than last year. It makes me feel more relaxed as last year was difficult and I needed to prove myself.
"Last year was also good, not perfect. This year I started well and I hope to continue like that. I am missing some part of my game and I can improve and get better, but I think it will come for sure.
"Lampard gives me more freedom and I can take the ball and go forward. I feel good. I have a good connection with the coach and all the team. We can change positions. We are aggressive. We are doing well but it is only one month with the coach so we can improve.
"Last season was also a good connection with the coach. It was also a good year last year. The connection is good [with Lampard]. The fans love him and so do the players. He is young and he understands us. We have a good connection with the coach.
"I feel better and more confident than last year. It is really important [that we got the result] because I think we started very well, in terms of playing. The results were not perfect but we played well. Today, we needed the three points more than a beautiful game. We did well and we won. Everything was perfect."
The Blues spine was solid against Norwich and they kept possession better than in any of their previous games to fend off criticism that they fade in the second half.
Lampard's high-energy press to win back the ball is becoming a mark of the latest Chelsea side and young players are leading the way.
Tammy Abraham scored the winner against the Canaries in the second half and Kovacic has echoed Lampard's belief that the 21-year-old is capable of being a Chelsea player for years to come.
"I think he knows where he needs to go," Kovacic said of Abraham. "As a striker, sometimes he needs to go long and sometimes he needs to come short. So he already knows what to do. I can’t teach him much because I am not a striker or a great goalscorer.
"I think Tammy is doing well and he will improve this year for sure. It comes naturally. Tammy is a great player with great movements. He is still young and he can improve a lot. I think the whole team is doing quite well in these first games.
"Of course [I can see it meant a lot]. Every game is important; every goal is important. I think, in particular, it was important that today he scored. He will now be more confident and for sure he will score more goals this season.
"We have a good connection and I think we can only get better from now on."