Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte had secured an initial agreement to sign Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante in the recent transfer window, according to one journalist.
Kante moved to the Blues in 2016 as one of Conte’s first signings while in charge at Stamford Bridge.
Indeed, the pair spent two seasons together, with the midfielder playing a vital role in Chelsea’s 2017 Premier League triumph. What’s more, the Frenchman proved crucial in Chelsea’s FA Cup triumph in 2018.
But while Chelsea sacked Conte in the summer of 2018, Kante has retained his importance to the club. After his recent injury niggles, the 29-year-old has been one of the Blues’ best performers this term.
As such, reports in the previous transfer market claimed that Conte wanted to reunite with his former colleague. But while a deal did not materialise, one reporter has claimed to reveal how close the move was to completion.
Italian journalist Maurizio Pistocchi, though, added that Inter’s failure to offload two unwanted players restricted the club’s ability to afford Kante.
Pistocchi told Passione Inter: “Conte had closed some personal negotiations with Kante, and was willing to come to Inter.
“He had identified him as the perfect player to win. They have not been able to get rid of the redundancies that have remained in Milan like [Radja] Nainggolan or [Matias] Vecino. He was annoyed about this.”
Vecino, meanwhile, became the subject of links to Everton.
As for Inter’s progress since the failed move for Kante, they have made a solid start to the Serie A campaign. However, they exited the Champions League at the group stage on Wednesday after a 0-0 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk.
Kante among Leeds star’s toughest opponents
Meanwhile, Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips has said that Kante is one of the toughest opponents he has faced this season.
Phillips, who starred in the Whites’ return to the Premier League last term, has enjoyed testing himself in the top flight.
And after Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa highlighted Kante’s performance in the Blues’ 3-1 win last Saturday, Phillips has echoed those comments.