Antonio Conte insists Alvaro Morata was his first choice when it came to securing a new striker for Chelsea.
Spain international Morata is set to become the Premier League champions’ record signing after a fee in the region of £70million was agreed with Real Madrid.
The 24-year-old is still to conclude the formalities of personal terms and a medical at Stamford Bridge and will finally get the chance to play under Conte, who sanctioned a move for him at Juventus in 2014 before leaving to take charge of the Italian national side.
Conte was reportedly angered by Manchester United signing ex-Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku for £75m from Everton earlier this month, but he told a news conference in Beijing that Morata was always his primary target.
“It is very important, the choice. Morata, for sure, is our first choice,” said the 47-year-old head coach, who signed an improved contract with Chelsea this week.
“He is a good player, the right prospect for Chelsea and hopes to show his value with us.
“I think for sure this is a good signing for us, he is a young player but has a lot of experience, he went to Juventus and Real Madrid. He has a lot of experience and I think this is a good signing for us.
“We have added a fantastic striker, even at a young age he has won a lot already and we are looking forward to welcoming him to the squad.”
Conte is relaxed over the amount Chelsea have agreed to pay for Morata, pointing to the examples of Lukaku’s move to United, Arsenal’s club-record capture of Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon and Manchester City making England international Kyle Walker the most expensive full-back of all-time.
“For sure this transfer market is a crazy market, but it is not only for this season but for the future seasons,” Conte said.
“Now there is crazy money, if you want to buy a normal player you need to spend €40-50m.
“It is the same [for everyone]. Lukaku cost a lot of money, the same with Lacazette. For a right-back [Walker] you spend €50-60m.”