Antonio Conte still laments Chelsea’s failure to land Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk during his time as manager and believes things would have been very different for the club if they’d delivered his transfer targets.
Conte, now manager of Inter Milan, specifically asked Chelsea chiefs to bring Lukaku and Van Dijk to the club after winning the league during his first season in charge but the pair ended up moving to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
Conte ended up losing his job a season later – despite winning the FA Cup – and he has now linked up with Lukaku at Inter Milan.
But he regrets that he did not get the chance to help Chelsea dominate English football – something he thinks would have happened had he signed Lukaku and Van Dijk.
‘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 impressed under Conte since linking up with the Italian in Serie A and he has already scored seven goals in seven starts in all competitions this season.
Daily Times reports that the Belgium striker became a much maligned figure at Manchester United but Conte believes things would have been very different if he’d signed for Chelsea instead. ‘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.’