Former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has revealed that he tried to sign Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, before the Dutchman made the move to Liverpool.
The Italian claims he was in daily contact with the Netherlands captain, but the deal collapsed and he says this meant the Blues ‘lost momentum’ after winning the Premier League title.
Speaking exclusively to the Telegraph, Conte said he wanted both van Dijk and Romelu Lukaku at Stamford Bridge but neither transfer was completed.
“I asked for two players and we were very, very close after we won the league,” he said. “One player was Romelu Lukaku, the second player was Virgil van Dijk, and these two players were very, very close.
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“We were in contact every day and I always said that with these two players we would improve my team by 30%. 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.”
Fortunately for Liverpool, the deal didn’t come off for Conte, and van Dijk signed for the Reds on December 27 2017 and the rest is history.
The centre-half was an immovable object in our back-line until his recent ACL injury, but he’ll back to his best before we know it and hungrier than ever.
Having already helped Liverpool to Champions League and Premier League titles, it’s clear Conte was certainly proven right to be targeting van Dijk.