Antonio Conte’s standard answer for any and just about all transfer rumors ever posed to him is that he doesn’t talk about players on other teams. In his 18 months at Chelsea, he’s stuck to this mantra more or less perfectly, but that hasn’t stopped journalists asking him about various rumors anyway. The latest example of this was the question about Arturo Vidal in Tuesday’s post-match press conference following Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Brighton.
“I must be honest, it's not right to talk about a player of another team. Especially if you try to link this player with us.”
But Conte and Vidal have a relatively long and great and successful history together at Juventus, so the coach also paid tribute to his old player, as he normally would, before moving on to the next topic.
"Arturo is a fantastic player. I have great respect for Arturo, and we spent many years in Juventus together. I'd always want him with me."
-Antonio Conte; source: Goal
The last line should be familiar if you remember previous Vidal-to-Chelsea links, wherein Conte said he’d want “amazing” Vidal on “all his teams” and that he’d even take the midfielder “to war”, though he probably meant that latter part figuratively. That was from March 2016, while another round of rumors followed in January 2017. Incidentally, Arturo Vidal remains not a Chelsea player.
What Vidal does remain however is a Bayern player (and a key one at that), and one whose contract is expiring in 18 months. What a coincidence! A fresh round of transfer rumors while Bayern continue weighing up their decision to offer a new contract or not? Inconceivable!
For what it’s worth, which is very little, these rumors were mostly started by reports back in Chile (just like the January 2017 ones). The already shaky ground those stood on were left crumbling with claims of Chelsea offering a 20 per cent wage rise (to €18m per season, which is roughly £300k per week) and a four-year contract to the 30-year-old. Not only would that make Vidal Chelsea’s highest paid player (by some margin!), at least until Eden Hazard’s new contract hits that number, but it would require Chelsea to break the one rule we wouldn’t break even for club legends: no multi-year deals for players over 30.
Silly Season starts in earnest in four days. Carry on.