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."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 0:49
Antonio Conte reveals he tried to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Chelsea and backs the striker's 'personality' to lift AC Milan

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.

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.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has re-joined Milan on an initial six-month deal 0:59
Zlatan Ibrahimovic insists previous achievements mean nothing and he will have to start from scratch at AC Milan

"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.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a second-half substitute in the draw with Sampdoria
Image: Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned for a second stint with AC Milan, who he played with between 2010 and 2012

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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