Antonio Conte Suggests Chelsea Were Priced out of Signing Virgil van Dijk

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2018

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Liverpool and Everton  at Anfield on January 5, 2018 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted the Blues were interested in signing Virgil van Dijk from Southampton but suggested they were priced out of a deal for the centre-back who completed a move to Liverpool

The Netherlands international became the most expensive defender in the history of the game when he moved to Anfield in January in a transfer worth £75 million. 

However, Conte said Van Dijk had also been a target for the Premier League champions, per Miguel Delaney of The Independent:

"This is football. 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.

"Liverpool bought Van Dijk to reinforce his defensive line, and I think Van Dijk is a top defender. And they spent [75] 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."

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte gestures during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 3, 2018.  / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with
ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

According to Delaney, Chelsea were only willing to part with £50 million to bring Van Dijk to Stamford Bridge. The player was also said to be keen to work with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.

Van Dijk's Liverpool career got off to a perfect start last week, as he netted a late winner against Everton in the FA Cup third round at Anfield. The man himself posted the following on Twitter after his dream debut:

Delaney added Chelsea are still looking to recruit another defender for their squad in the January transfer window.

While the Blues spent big to secure Antonio Rudiger from AS Roma in the summer, there are doubts about the future of David Luiz, who was a linchpin in the three-man defence last season.

As reported by Matt Law and Jason Burt of the Daily Telegraph, the Brazil international fell out with Conte, and Real Madrid have been linked with a possible move.

Christensen has been excellent this season.
Christensen has been excellent this season.Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Aside from that duo, Chelsea have the imperious Cesar Azpilicueta to call upon in addition to the experienced Gary Cahill. Conte has also utilised the excellent Andreas Christensen, who has shone despite his tender years.

The 21-year-old signed a new contract on Tuesday and has totted up some impressive numbers this season already, as noted by Squawka Football:

Simon Johnson of the Evening Standard suggested Christensen is already a superior player to the new Liverpool No. 4:

Time will tell on that front, although Van Dijk has all the attributes of a footballer who could make a big difference to this Liverpool side.

Given the way in which the Reds press and attack, they needed a centre-back who's composed in possession, excellent in one-on-one situations and quick. Van Dijk ticks all of those boxes, and it's easy to see why Klopp was willing to bide his time to get him.

Conte has a lot of centre-backs available, although his preference for a three-man defence means he'll need more defenders than the average squad. But in Azpilicueta, Christensen and Rudiger, the Blues have some excellent long-term options in place.

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