Antonio Conte says his Chelsea would have dominated with two signings | Football

The Italian believes he could have built a dynasty in west London (Picture: Getty)

Antonio Conte is convinced Chelsea could have become the dominant force in English football had the club managed to bring in his top two targets in the summer of 2017.

The west Londoners won the Premier League in the Italian’s first season in charge, in large part thanks to a 13-game winning run shortly after he switched to his tried-and-tested back three.

But the following season would be less successful, with the Blues only finishing fifth – though they did lift the FA Cup – and Conte decided to part ways in the summer.

Conte had targeted two key players in the summer of 2017 following his title win, a centre-back and a striker, with Virgil van Dijk and Romelu Lukaku his top picks for the respective roles.

But instead Chelsea signed Antonio Rudiger, who was far from the finished article he is today, and Liverpool managed to prise Van Dijk away from Southampton – though they had to wait until January and forked out a then record £75million.

Similarly, Lukaku opted to join Manchester United over Chelsea and the Blues instead signed Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid for £58m, but the Spaniard only mustered 16 goals in 47 Premier League appearances.

Conte feels that was a sliding doors moment in his reign as Chelsea manager and is adamant the club could have enjoyed Manchester City levels of dominance had his preferred targets been recruited.

Antonio Conte and Romelu Lukaku at Inter

Conte later won the Scudetto at Inter with Lukaku (Picture: Getty)

Speaking in his first interview since leaving Tottenham nearly a year ago, Conte told The Telegraph: ‘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.’

Conte has been out of work since leaving Tottenham by mutual consent in March last year following an explosive rant at his players after a late collapse against Southampton in which he described his squad as ‘selfish’.

The Italian has suggested he struggled with the lower expectations at Spurs, continuing: ‘For me, to celebrate fourth place and a place in the Champions League was really strange.

‘At the end of the final game against Norwich [when Spurs secured fourth place in 2022], I called my staff and said, “Pay attention, don’t be used to celebrating a Champions League place”.

‘I was very clear. I said we did the maximum. From ninth to fourth place, with all the problems we faced, was a miracle. But we didn’t celebrate like it was a miracle because I am used to winning.’

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