Chelsea

Chelsea

Premier League • England

Conte reveals stunning Chelsea transfer miss that would’ve prevented Liverpool title win and halted Man City domination

Managers Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola

Chelsea sought two blockbuster signings in the summer of 2017 that could've changed the landscape of the Premier League

Antonio Conte revealed his title-winning Chelsea team held talks over two blockbuster signings that could’ve prevented Man City’s subsequent domination and ensured Liverpool never won the Premier League title.

Conte first arrived in England during the same summer (2016) as Pep Guardiola landed at Manchester City. Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp was primed to embark on his first full season as Liverpool manager having joinedf the Reds mid-way through the 2015/16 season.

The title race in the 2016/17 campaign appeared wide open on the back of Leicester City shocking the world the year before.

However, it was Conte’s Chelsea who quickly established themselves as an unstoppable force and marched to the title with a points tally of 93.

In doing so, Conte became just the second manager at that time to beat Guardiola to a league title. Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid was the first, with Klopp becoming the third three years later in the 2019/20 season.

But despite Conte’s Chelsea dominating the Premier League during his first season at Stamford Bridge, the Blues dramatically fell back down to the earth the following year.

Indeed, Chelsea went on to finish fifth in the 2017/18 campaign and duly missed out on qualification for the Champions League. Conte paid the ultimate price when replaced by Maurizio Sarri.

Chelsea haven’t won the league title since Conte’s reign, with Man City emerging victorious on five occasions under Guardiola and Liverpool breaking their EPL duck under Klopp.

Now, in a tell-all interview with the Telegraph, Conte has revealed the Blues were in discussions over two high profile transfers in the summer following Chelsea’s title win.

Per the Italian, Chelsea could have enjoyed their own period of domination if both deals for Virgil van Dijk and Romelu Lukaku crossed the line.

Van Dijk could’ve become Chelsea legend

“It’s not easy,” said Conte when reflecting on Chelsea’s missed opportunity. “Guardiola is the best coach in the world.

“And then when you can match the best coach in the world with a club that can back you and can invest to bring in important players to improve the team every season because they want to stay at the top of the world, then it is very, very difficult to compete at the same level.

“My history says that I always arrived at my clubs in a difficult situation with problems. I always build.

“After my first season at Chelsea, when we won the title, we could have become dominant in England.

“We spoke with Lukaku and Van Dijk, and with those two important players we could have changed the situation.”

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Who Chelsea signed instead

Van Dijk was impressing with Southampton at the time and would go on to join Liverpool in the winter window six months later.

It’s widely acknowledged the twin arrivals of Van Dijk and Allison Becker around that period are what turned Liverpool from challengers into champions.

Lukaku, meanwhile, had just scored 25 league goals for Everton and instead of returning to Chelsea, signed with Manchester United instead.

Chelsea did go on to land a new centre-back and striker that summer. Antonio Rudiger signed from Roma, though while the German did excel at Chelsea, he was never the same calibre of player Van Dijk has been.

Elsewhere, Alvaro Morata arrived in a £58m deal from Real Madrid and quickly joined a long list of strikers to flop at Stamford Bridge.

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