Chelsea were ‘very close’ to Virgil van Dijk signing, recalls Antonio Conte

Chelsea could have won back-to-back Premier League titles under Antonio Conte between 2016 and 2018.

In reality the Italian coach lifted the title in his first ever English league season before watching his side slip down to fifth before being replaced by Maurizio Sarri.

Current Inter boss Conte has now spoken out about his time at Stamford Bridge for the first time, and bemoaned their failure to secure two key transfer targets ahead of his second campaign.

As well as current Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk, he wanted to bring Romelu Lukaku back to London.

“I asked for two players and we were very, very close after we won the league,” Conte told the Telegraph.

“One player was Romelu Lukaku, the second player was Virgil van Dijk, and these two players were very, very close.

“We were in contact every day and I always said that with these two players we would improve my team by 30 per cent.

“I think maybe we lost the momentum to bring Chelsea at the very top and then to stay for many years.

“It was a pity that it didn’t happen and Romelu is showing with Inter that my idea was right and also Van Dijk has shown with Liverpool that my idea was right for the club.”

Van Dijk has gone on to win both the Champions League and Premier League with Liverpool after a multi-million move from Southampton, while Lukaku is shining in Italy after leaving Manchester United.

Conte’s final game as Chelsea boss proved to be their FA Cup final victory over United, having missed out on Champions League qualification with a fifth placed finish.

He then added of their failure transfer pursuit of Lukaku: “For sure, it would have been a different story if I was the coach of Romelu.

“Romelu is an incredible player and he has a lot of space for improvement.

“In one year at Inter, he had a lot of improvement because he wants to learn and I think I am a teacher.

“But he can continue to improve to become one of the best strikers in the world.”

Source: Read Full Article