Cape Town - Antonio Conte says Chelsea were chasing Virgil van Dijk before he moved to Liverpool and the club are still believed to be targeting a central defender.
Van Dijk signed for Liverpool from Southampton for £75 million earlier this month, but both Man City and Chelsea were linked with the Dutch defender.
And now Conte has admitted they were beaten to his signature by Liverpool, hinting that the fee Jurgen Klopp paid was over the odds with Chelsea only prepared to go to £50 million
"This is football,” Conte said. "This is life. For sure he was our target but as you know this is football. We can have a lot of targets but you must be able to reach those targets. The transfer market is not simple for any club.
"Liverpool bought Van Dijk to reinforce his defensive line, and I think Van Dijk is a top defender. And they spent £75 million for this player.
"The same time, they sold very well Coutinho because when you sell a player for this amount of money, and then you have the rest of money to invest, to improve your team.
"But I think the transfer market is not simple, it’s not simple, especially if there is this amount of money. It’s not simple, and Arsenal, I don’t know what happen but, I repeat, the best way to look at ourselves, to try to find the best solution for us is don't look the other.
"But I have great respect for the other teams, from the other managers, because behind every operation there is a programme, is a plan and I have great respect for every manager, ever team."
Conte, who tied down 21-year-old Andreas Christensen to a new four-and-a-half-year contract yesterday, is still believed to be in the market for a centre-back.