Antonio Conte has revealed Chelsea failed to sign Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk during his time as manager and believes it would have been different for the club if they’d delivered his transfer targets.
Conte specifically asked Chelsea chiefs to sign Lukaku and Van Dijk after winning the Premier League during his first campaign in charge but the duo ended up signing for Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
And Conte lost his job a season later – despite winning the FA Cup – and he has now linked up with Romelu Lukaku at Inter Milan.
But he regrets that he did not get the opportunity to help Chelsea dominate the league – something he thinks would have happened had he signed both players.
‘I asked for two players and we were very, very close after we won the league,’ Conte told the Telegraph. ‘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%. 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 has been outstanding under Conte since linking up with the Italian in Serie A and he has scored seven goals in seven starts in all competitions this campaign.
The Belgium international became a much maligned figure at Manchester United but Conte says things would have been different if he’d joined Chelsea.
‘For sure, it would have been a different story if I was the coach of Romelu,’ added Conte.
‘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.’