Antonio Conte has revealed Chelsea were “very close” to signing Virgil van Dijk and Romelu Lukaku after winning the Premier League in 2017.
Conte secured the title in his first season in charge of Chelsea and was hoping to strengthen his squad for the following campaign.
He says they were close to bringing Lukaku back to the club from Everton and also nearly secured the services of Van Dijk from Southampton.
"I asked for two players and we were very, very close after we won the league,” he 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 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.”
After missing out on the duo – with Lukaku joining Manchester United and Van Dijk heading to Liverpool in the next transfer window – Chelsea finished fifth in the league and Conte was sacked.
He is now with Inter Milan and has 18 months left on his deal, but would be keen to return to England in the future.
"I have this season and another year of my contract at Inter and I started a project here, and, honestly, I want to continue this project and stay for many years because we are building the bases,” said Conte.
"But, for sure, in my future, I want to come back to England to have another experience because I enjoyed my stay there a lot and to breathe the atmosphere in England.
"For me, for my family, I'd like to one day come back to England because we lived an incredible experience and we want to continue to have another experience in England.”
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