Antonio Conte revealed that Chelsea missed out on Virgil van Dijk

08:47 - 15/02/2024 - Admin

In a recent interview, current Tottenham manager Antonio Conte discussed his previous spell with Chelsea from 2016-2018. Conte revealed he attempted but failed to sign striker Romelu Lukaku and defender Virgil van Dijk during his time at Stamford Bridge, signings that he feels could have solidified Chelsea as the dominant force in English football.

Conte initially joined Chelsea in 2016 and promptly led the Blues to the Premier League title in his debut campaign. However, after slipping to 5th place in the subsequent 2017/18 season, he was sacked by the Chelsea board.

Reflecting on his Chelsea tenure with The Times, Conte expressed regret over missing out on Lukaku and van Dijk, two players who could have altered the club’s trajectory.

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Antonio Conte revealed that Chelsea missed out on Virgil van Dijk

“Throughout my career, I always landed at a team that was in trouble and reformed the club. In the first season, I came to Chelsea, I brought home the Premier League title. We were even able to dominate English football.

Right after that, I talked to Lukaku and Van Dijk. If Chelsea could recruit these two players, things could have been very different for Chelsea.”

At the time Conte approached the pair in 2017, Lukaku was still playing for Everton while van Dijk was impressing at Southampton. Lukaku would join Manchester United the following campaign before eventually signing with Chelsea last season. Meanwhile, van Dijk sealed his record-breaking transfer to Liverpool in January 2018.

Conte also commented on the difficulty of competing with a Pep Guardiola-led Manchester City in the modern era, hailing Guardiola as the current best manager in world football.

“Racing for the championship with Pep is very difficult. He is the best coach in the world.

When that coach leads a team with a solid financial and sports foundation, ready to buy every player to serve the coach’s intentions, other teams will face many difficulties. It’s impossible to compete with a team at that level.”

While Conte came close to building a dynasty at Chelsea, the inability to secure his top transfer targets proved pivotal in the club’s long-term trajectory. The Italian will now hope to replicate his early success at his current club Tottenham.

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