How Antonio Conte ruined Chelsea’s deals for Van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain

Chelsea tried to sign both Virgil van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain three years ago but the duo were put off a transfer move to the club by then manager Antonio Conte.

The Liverpool pair were at Southampton and Arsenal respectively back in 2017 before moving to Anfield and going on to win the UEFA Champions League.

While the Reds were just two victories away from claiming the Premier League title this campaign before football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Things could have been different had Chelsea got their way, with the blues targeting both players ahead of Conte’s second campaign in charge and fresh from being crowned champions of the League.

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But despite Chelsea’s success, The Athletic claims that Conte’s hot-headed reputation – he told Diego Costa he was getting sold via text that summer – and lack of job security played a huge role in making both Van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s snub the club.

The England midfielder had serious questions over how long Antonio Conte would be in charge at Chelsea, with speculation swirling about his future despite winning the league.

Oxlade-Chamberlain also had reservations about how the Italian coach would use him and the pragmatic style of football he favoured, with the Inter boss using a back three and wing-backs.

He suspected he might be used as a right wing-back by Conte, replacing Victor Moses in the team, whereas Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp assured him that he would play in his preferred position in midfield.

Van Dijk’s situation was a bit different, with Liverpool’s initial move turned down over tapping up allegations and Chelsea trying to swoop in as Southampton refused to sell his current team.

Again, Van Dijk was concerned by the stories coming out of Stamford Bridge about the management approach of Conte and poor relationship with the blues hierarchy.

He also feared the Italian would not last long as the club manager, while he had his heart set on a switch to Liverpool and was prepared to wait until the following January window.

Conte was indeed sacked after finishing fifth in the 2017/18 campaign – though he did win the FA Cup – and both Van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain were justified in joining Klopp at Liverpool.

To make matters worse for Chelsea, they endured a poor window that summer after missing out on Van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain, signing three of their biggest flops: Morata, Bakayoko and Drinkwater.

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