Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Antonio Conte tried to sign striker when he was at Chelsea
Conte: "There was a moment when I tried to convince him to come to Chelsea, but he was in a recovery phase and eventually he didn't feel like accepting."
By Tommaso Fiore
Last Updated: 11/01/20 9:12am
Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte revealed he was once close to bringing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Stamford Bridge.
Ibrahimovic returned to AC Milan for a second stint in December, signing a six-month contract with an option for a further year after his deal at MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy expired in November.
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Conte is now in charge of the Swede's city rivals Inter Milan, but said the pair could have been working together in west London when he took the reins between 2016 and 2018.
"I welcome back Ibrahimovic, he is a great champion," said Conte. "He knows well there was a moment when I tried to convince him to come to Chelsea, but he was in a recovery phase and eventually he didn't feel like accepting.
"He is a person I have a lot of respect for. I think he can give AC Milan a lot and he can bring personality by making the environment more responsible.
"For a coach, it's important to find players in teams who can convey your word. Players who know what you want, who lead the team. When a coach has those kind of players then things get a lot easier."
It is possible Conte was referring to the 2017 summer transfer window, when the striker was recovering from a knee injury while at Manchester United but later signed a new deal to keep him at Old Trafford.
Ibrahimovic could not inspire AC Milan on his second debut for the club as he was brought on for a second-half cameo in a 0-0 draw at home to Sampdoria on Sunday.
The 38-year-old will face off with Conte, whose Inter Milan side are currently top of Serie A, in a derby clash on February 9.
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