'For sure he was our target' - Antonio Conte confirms Chelsea wanted to swoop for Liverpool star
Antonio Conte has confirmed that Virgil van Dijk was a target for Chelsea before he moved to Liverpool, and it is understood that the Premier League champions are still looking for a centre-half.
One issue for Chelsea in the pursuit of the player is that they were always unwilling to pay more than £50m, £25m short of what Liverpool eventually paid, and that it was already long known that the 26-year-old wanted to work with Jurgen Klopp.
"This is football," Conte said. "This is life. For sure he was our target but as you know this is football. We can have a lot of targets but you must be able to reach those targets. The transfer market is not simple for any club."
The signing of Van Dijk is one reason why Conte thinks that Liverpool will not really be weakened by the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona.
"But Liverpool bought Van Dijk to reinforce his defensive line, and I think Van Dijk is a top defender,” he added. “And they spent  million euro for this player. The same time, they sold very well Coutinho because when you sell a player for this amount of money, and then you have the rest of money to invest, to improve your team.
"But I think the transfer market is not simple, it’s not simple, especially if there is this amount of money. It’s not simple, and Arsenal, I don’t know what happen but, I repeat, the best way to look at ourselves, to try to find the best solution for us is don’t look the other.
"But I have great respect for the other teams, from the other managers, because behind every operation there is a programme, is a plan and I have great respect for every manager, ever team."
Independent News Service