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The Blues made big plays to try and sign the duo before they joined Liverpool (Pictures: Getty)

Chelsea tried to sign both Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain three years ago but the duo were reportedly put off a move to Stamford Bridge by then manager Antonio Conte.

The Liverpool pair were at Southampton and Arsenal respectively back in 2017 before agreeing moves to Anfield and going on to win the Champions League, while they were just two wins away from claiming the Premier League title this season before football was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.

Things could have been very different had Chelsea got their way, with the west London club targeting both players ahead of Conte’s second season in charge and fresh from being crowned champions.

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But despite Chelsea’s success, The Athletic report that Conte’s hot-headed reputation – he told Diego Costa he was getting sold via text that same summer – and lack of job security played a big role in both Van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s transfer decisions.

The England international had serious questions over how long Conte would be in charge at Stamford Bridge, with speculation swirling about his future despite winning the league.

Oxlade-Chamberlain also had reservations about how Conte would use him and the pragmatic style of football he favoured, with the Italian using a back three and wing-backs.

He suspected he might be moulded into a right wing-back by Conte, replacing Victor Moses in the side, whereas Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp gave him assurances that he would play in his preferred position in central midfield.

Van Dijk’s situation was slightly different, with Liverpool’s initial move rejected over tapping up allegations and Chelsea trying to swoop in as Southampton refused to sell to the Reds.

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Van Dijk could have been Chelsea players but for Conte (Picture: Getty)

Again, Van Dijk was concerned by the stories coming out of Chelsea about Conte’s management approach and rocky relationship with the club’s hierarchy, and feared the Italian would not last long in charge, while he had his heart set on a move to Liverpool and was prepared to wait until the following January.

Conte was indeed axed after finishing fifth in the 2017/18 season – though he did win the FA Cup – and both Van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain were justified in picking Klopp, who recently signed a new contract until 2024.

To make matters worse for Chelsea, they endured a miserable window that summer after missing out on Van Dijk and Oxlade-Chamberlain, signing three of their biggest ever flops: Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater.

MORE: Hakim Ziyech reveals how Frank Lampard ‘convinced’ him to join Chelsea

MORE: Sadio Mane unhappy with Jurgen Klopp over Virgil van Dijk nomination

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