Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has reiterated his “great admiration” for Alexis Sanchez, but said he was not attempting to lure the Arsenal forward to Stamford Bridge when the two were pictured in conversation earlier this week.
Sanchez, whose Arsenal contract expires at the end of the season, has been heavily linked with a January move to runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Amid reports of increased interest from Manchester United in the Chile forward, Arsene Wenger said on Friday there had been no “concrete” developments regarding Sanchez’s future, the Arsenal boss adding: “Nothing is decided one way or another”
At a news conference later in the day, Conte was asked what he had said to the player when the two spoke in the Stamford Bridge tunnel ahead of Wednesday’s EFL Cup tie between Chelsea and Arsenal.
“I said hello,” replied Conte with a smile. “He’s a great player and he knows very well that in my first season at Juventus we tried to buy him from Udinese, and then he decided to go to Barcelona.
“He knows very well my admiration for him – it was a good chance to say hello. [There were] no other conversations. I have great admiration for great players, I think Alexis Sanchez is one of these players.
“I don’t know [where Sanchez will go]. You have to ask him which is his choice, or maybe ask Arsenal because Arsenal has to decide his future before June.
“For sure, his future will be in a great club.”
Asked whether other Premier League clubs have a responsibility to stop Pep Guardiola from adding Sanchez to his richly talented squad, Conte suggested Chelsea could do little to hijack any City move.
“No, because if Manchester City want Sanchez, they buy Sanchez,” said the Italian. “They don’t have a problem about money or investment and I think it’s a good investment because we are talking about a top player and you can buy him for a price that is not so high.
“I’m hearing that the amount is around £20m. If you go to buy Sanchez with a normal price, it’s maybe £80-£90m.
“This is just my opinion, because in the past City showed if they want to take a player, they go and buy this player.”