Date published: Wednesday 29th April 2020 8:30
Liverpool stars Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both turned down transfers to Chelsea due to concerns over Antonio Conte, it has been claimed.
A report on the Athletic, relayed on the Metro, says that the Blues made moves for the duo in the summer of 2017, just after Conte had guided Chelsea to the league title in his first season in charge.
However, both van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain, of Southampton and Arsenal respectively at the time, chose not to move to Stamford Bridge as they were ‘put off’ by the Italian manager’s fiery temper, while they were also unsure how long he would remain in charge amid reports of disharmony between Conte and the Chelsea board.
This came around the same time that van Dijk had submitted a transfer request to the Saints as he attempted to force through a move to Anfield, while Oxlade-Chamberlain was looking for a move away from the Emirates in order to find playing time in his preferred midfield role.
Chelsea did actually have a £30million bid for the Englishman accepted just days before that year’s summer window slammed shut, only for Liverpool to swoop in and sign him from under their noses on deadline day.
The report also states that ‘Ox’ was concerned Conte would try and convert him into a wing back if he swapped Arsenal for Chelsea, while Jurgen Klopp had provided assurances that he would be given the opportunity to play in the centre of the park if he moved to Liverpool which proved to be the decisive factor in his decision.
Of course, van Dijk eventually went on to seal his move to the Reds too, signing just a matter of months later for £75million, breaking the record for highest fee paid for a defender.
The pair have since gone on to win a Champions League title, while van Dijk was also named the Premier League and PFA Player of the Year following an almost faultless season in 2018/19.
They were also within weeks secure Liverpool’s first league title for 30 years before football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Their worries regarding Conte, meanwhile, were proved correct with the now Inter Milan boss enduring a troublesome year with Chelsea before being sacked at the end of the 2017/18 season.
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