Ahead of the widely expected announcement that Antonio Conte will take over at Chelsea, Jorge Sampaoli has revealed he had almost won the job up until the Italian’s involvement.
The current Italy coach has been all but confirmed as the long-term replacement for Jose Mourinho, beating out a number of rumoured candidates including his successor at Juventus, Massimiliano Allegri.
However the 2015 FIFA World Coach of the Year finalist has insisted he would have been the likely choice had it not been for his poor English.
“I had a meeting with Chelsea’s owner and he told me that I was the first option,” he told Argentine station Radio Vorterix. “I was about to be their new coach.
“But then Conte appeared and it became a competition between us. It was him or me. I needed some time in order to improve my English but this kind of club doesn’t give you that time.”
The 55-year-old’s coaching career has included stints in Peru, Ecuador and Chile, taking Universidad de Chile to the 2011 Copa Sudamericana title.
However, following a four-year stint at the helm of the Chilean national team, Sampaoli could not hold back his disappointment at missing out on a Premier League appointment.
“The Premier League is definitely the best league in the world and I wanted to coach there,” he continued. “But as I said, it didn’t happen, sadly.”