Conte opens up on his time at Chelsea, Costa episode, and Lampard

Conte explains why Inter signed Alexis Sanchez

Former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has now opened up on his time at Stamford Bridge.

The Italian manager revealed that he was very close to signing Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk for the Blues after winning the Premier League title with Chelsea.

Conte went on to claim that failing to sign those two players resulted in his team’s decline and his squad could have improved by 30% had Chelsea managed to sign those two players.

Conte told The Telegraph: “I asked for two players and we were very, very close after we won the league.

“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.”

The former Chelsea manager also lifted the lid on why Diego Costa was so desperate to leave the Blues.

According to Conte, Costa tried to leave the club several times in search of a better contract and the Italian manager had to cash in on him because he wanted players who are focused on the project at Chelsea.

He said: “This is the truth and, honestly, in my career I want to have players who are concentrated on my team and not to consider my team a second choice. My team must be the first choice.

“It was an incredible season and I managed, together with the club, the Diego Costa situation in the best possible way. But, in the end, the truth was only that the player wanted to leave many times to Atletico Madrid and during the season to go to China because he wanted the best contract.”

The Inter Milan manager also heaped praise on the current Chelsea manager Frank Lampard for the job he has done at Stamford Bridge so far.

Conte revealed that Lampard is a Chelsea legend and he knows the club well. He also compared the former Chelsea midfielder’s situation to that of his when he was in charge of Juventus.

The former Chelsea boss believes that Lampard is the right appointment for the Blues and it will be interesting to see if Chelsea can compete at the highest level under is management in the coming seasons.

Antonio Conte manager also spoke about Roman Abramovich and he explained how the Chelsea owner was one of the most passionate men he has come across in his footballing career.