Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has said he has a “great respect” for Arturo Vidal, amid transfer speculation linking the reigning Premier League champions with a move for the Bayern Munich midfielder.
Chile’s La Cuarta reported Conte had already telephoned with Vidal to urge him to move to England, suggesting the midfielder could double his alleged current €7.5 million salary by agreeing a switch to London next summer.
Vidal, 30, played under Conte at Juventus between 2011 and 2014, teaming up to win three Serie A three titles in succession, before Conte left to become the Italy national team coach.
And at his postmatch news conference after Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Brighton on Tuesday, Conte said: “I must be honest, it’s not right to talk about a player from another team – especially if you try to link this player with us.
“But [Arturo] is a fantastic player. I have a great respect for Arturo, and we spent many years in Juventus together. If we go to war, I’d always want him with me.”
Vidal left Juventus in 2015, teaming up on a four-year-contract with then-Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola for a fee of €37m.
Vidal was also linked with the Premier League champions in February when Bayern were still trained by Carlo Ancelotti.
However, following Ancelotti’s sacking and having worked together at Bayer Leverkusen between 2009 and 2011, Vidal has been revitalised under Bayern’s interim coach Jupp Heynckes — scoring in four successive Bundesliga games earlier this month for the league leaders.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.