Chelsea are set to return to Premier League action with a trip to Newcastle United upon the resumption of domestic football after the international break. The Blues have been in fine touch in recent weeks, finding their goalscoring form and topping the scoring charts in England. What's more impressive for them is their defensive record, and understandably so after their shaky start to the campaign.
Chelsea also look primed to progress to the next phase of the UEFA Champions League after two wins and a draw in their first three fixtures of the group stages. With Premier League action edging closer to a return, here, we take a look at the latest Chelsea news.
Antonio Conte wanted Virgil van Dijk and Romelu Lukaku at Chelsea
Former Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte revealed that he wanted to sign Virgil van Dijk and Romelu Lukaku ahead of his second season at Stamford Bridge. The Italian, who spent two years with Chelsea, spoke to The Telegraph in an exclusive interview and spoke highly of the Dutchman and the Belgian, and said that they were very close to signing them.
Speaking on Chelsea's interest in Van Dijk and Lukaku, Conte expressed;
"I asked for two players, and we [Chelsea] were very, very close after we won the league. One player was Romelu Lukaku, the second player was Virgil van Dijk, and these two players were very, very close. We were in contact every day and I always said that with these two players we would improve my team by 30 per cent."
"I think maybe we lost the momentum to bring Chelsea at the very top and then to stay for many years. It was a pity that it didn’t happen and Romelu is showing with Inter that my idea was right and also Van Dijk has shown with Liverpool that my idea was right for the club."
Van Dijk eventually moved to Liverpool and won both the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League with the Reds, while Lukaku left Manchester United to work with Conte at Inter Milan.
Discussing the prospect of bringing Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge during his time at the club, the Italian tactician expressed;
"For sure, it would have been a different story if I was the coach of Romelu. Romelu is an incredible player, and he has a lot of space for improvement. In one year at Inter, he had a lot of improvement because he wants to learn, and I think I am a teacher. But he can continue to improve to become one of the best strikers in the world."
Conte backs Frank Lampard at Chelsea
As part of the same interview with The Telegraph, Antonio Conte expressed that he backs Frank Lampard to come good at the club and that he still follows Chelsea. The Italian left for Inter Milan after his two-year stay at the club, after which he was replaced by his compatriot Maurizio Sarri.
Speaking on his admiration for the state that Chelsea is currently is, Conte said;
"I think that the club wants to come back to win. I think, honestly, now in this moment Chelsea is a really good team, a strong team, a large squad to face many, many competitions. They worked very well, and at this moment they have many, many players."
The 51-year-old Inter coach continued,
"I remember when I arrived at Chelsea, and the situation wasn’t this. Because I remember in my first season, we faced the season with only 16 players. But, in this year, the club worked very well. I know they are doing a really good job because I continue to follow Chelsea. I am a fan."
Conte then went on to talk about why Lampard is the 'right' coach for Chelsea, saying,
"Lampard is, for sure, doing a good job and he knows very well the club because he’s a legend for Chelsea. I think it was the same when I started with Juventus because I knew very well the club and the way that you had to follow to reach your target. Lampard is the right coach for Chelsea."
Chelsea star Ben Chilwell's injury not a serious concern
Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell had an injury scare while away on international duty with England, throwing his participation for Chelsea's upcoming games in doubt. However, Frank Lampard and the Blues' faithful have been given a significant boost as the injury is not a serious one, as per Matt Law of The Telegraph.
He reported that Chilwell suffered from a back spasm, and that is not a major injury concern. The 23-year-old is not expected to feature for England in their upcoming clash against Iceland.
If Chilwell is not deemed fit enough to start Chelsea's away fixture at Newcastle, Lampard will have to rely upon either Emerson Palmieri to Marcos Alonso to fill in for him. The latter's last appearance for the club came at West Brom during their 3-3 draw, and was hauled off at half-time after a shocking display.
Also read: FIFA World Rankings: Top 10 football nationsPublished 17 Nov 2020, 20:38 IST