Antonio Conte reveals Chelsea were ‘very close’ to signing Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk


Antonio Conte has revealed that Chelsea were close to signing two elite players when he was manager, only for both players to ultimately head elsewhere.

The Italian manager, now in charge of Inter Milan, led the Stamford Bridge club to the Premier League title in 2016/17 before departing a year later after his team finished fifth.

Now he has explained how he wanted a specific pair of new additions who have gone on to prove their worth – but Chelsea missed out on striker Romelu Lukaku and centre-back Virgil van Dijk.

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

“One player was Lukaku, the second player was Van Dijk, and these two players were very, very close.”

The former Chelsea coach believes that a failure to land the two new additions cost his team the chance of retaining the title as they would have brought considerable upgraded talents to their respective positions, as well as the need to replace stars such as Diego Costa, who wanted to leave.

“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.”

Lukaku moved to Manchester United before Conte eventually secured is man at Inter last season, where he scored 34 goals last season and already has seven in eight games this term.

Van Dijk signed for Liverpool and has since won the Champions League and Premier League, but is currently out injured for the season after rupturing his ACL in the Merseyside derby.

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