Conte claims Chelsea were ‘very, very close’ to signing Van Dijk

Date published: Tuesday 17th November 2020 1:13 - Joe Williams

Virgil van Dijk Liverpool Chelsea

Antonio Conte claims he wanted Chelsea to sign Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk during his second season at Stamford Bridge.

The Italian was sacked by Chelsea and replaced with Maurizio Sarri in 2018 after two years at the Premier League club.

Chelsea won the Premier League in his first season in charge, while he lifted the FA Cup in 2017-18 – but his failure to qualify for the Champions League in that second campaign cost him his job.

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Conte reckons he could’ve kept the Blues at the top of English football for “many years” if he had landed his two key targets following his title triumph.

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

“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.”

Although Lukaku registered double figures in both his seasons at Manchester United, Conte reckons he would’ve done better if he’d been at the helm.

“For sure, it would have been a different story if I was the coach of Romelu,” Conte added.

“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.”


Just about all of the greatest uncapped Premier League players ever were pursued by England. And only four of them were English.

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