Chelsea: Antonio Conte To Hijack Rival's £50 Million Transfer Deal

Antonio Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte at National Stadium in Singapore on July 24. Lionel Ng/Getty

Chelsea will challenge Liverpool for the signing of Virgil van Dijk by offering Southampton £50 million (about $66 million) for the defender, according to reports.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool has shown interest in van Dijk since the beginning of the summer, so much so that the club had to apologize to Southampton for its pursuit.

But Antonio Conte also identified Dutch center back van Dijk back in January, according to The Times, and Chelsea will back its manager by making an offer to Southampton.

Chelsea, the report says, has hoped it would be able to persuade Southampton to sell to it rather than to Liverpool, as Conte's team has not pursued van Dijk as heavily.

The 26-year-old defender has been training on his own on the south coast and is expected to miss the first fixture of the Premier League season, which takes place next weekend.

At Chelsea, Conte has already signed a defender in Antonio Rüdiger as well as having David Luiz, Gary Cahill and César Azpilicueta, who play in similar positions.

Related: Chelsea Star Will Ask To Leave, Spurs Set For First Signing Of The Summer

The Italian manager has made three major signings this summer, bringing in Rüdiger, Tiémoué Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata.

Morata, the Spanish striker, will replace Diego Costa as the main striker at Stamford Bridge next season. Costa has been told by Conte that he has no future in West London and is pushing for a move back to Spanish club Atlético Madrid.

Chelsea is hoping to get £50 million for the striker, who is unlikely to return to the club's training ground in Cobham ahead of the new season.

Conte's team takes on Arsenal on Sunday in the Community Shield before hosting Burnley at Stamford Bridge on August 12 for the opening game of the season.