Conte shares how close he came to signing van Dijk before he joined Liverpool

Matthew Chivers November 17, 2020
Conte shares how close he came to signing van Dijk before he joined Liverpool
Photo by CATHERINE IVILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Antonio Conte has stated that he tried to sign Virgil Van Dijk and Romelu Lukaku during his time as Chelsea manager.

Conte was the last manager to lead Chelsea to the Premier League title in 2017, finishing seven points above Tottenham.

He also won the FA Cup in 2018 before being sacked and replaced by fellow Italian manager Maurizio Sarri.

Deep regret

Speaking to the Telegraph, Conte said: “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.”

Two top players in their positions

Virgil Van Dijk moved to Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018 for £75 million.

Van Dijk has become arguably the world’s best central defender, as well as a Champions League and Premier League champion with the Reds.

Lukaku did have a spell at Chelsea from 2011 to 2014, and now plays under Conte at Inter Milan in Serie A.

He has scored an impressive 41 goals in 59 appearances for Inter, and Conte is full of praise for the 27-year old Belgian.

He said: “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.”

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Graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2019, and has since become a qualified NCTJ journalist, studying at News Associates in Manchester.