Antonio Conte says he has great admiration for Alexis Sanchez, a player he previously tried to sign for Juventus, but is not aware of any attempts from Chelsea to join the race for his signature.
Manchester City have tabled a £20m bid for the Arsenal forward, having seen a move on the final day of the summer transfer window fall through at the eleventh hour. The Chile international has reportedly agreed personal terms with the Premier League leaders but the transfer saga took a major twist on Thursday when it emerged Manchester United have tabled their own offer of £25m for the Gunners star – with Jose Mourinho said to be confident of beating Pep Guardiola to his signing.
Sanchez and Conte were pictured in conversation in the aftermath of Chelsea and Arsenal's Carabao Cup stalemate midweek with the Blues boss admitting during a press conference on Friday he highly rates the player he tried to sign while he was still manager at Juventus, when Sanchez was emerging as one of Serie A's best talents.
But the Blues boss insists his latest meeting with the Chilean was nothing more than a friendly chat.
"I said hello, he is a great player and he knows in my first season in Juventus we tried to buy him from Udinese and he decided to go to Barcelona," Conte said, ahead of his side's Premier League meeting with Leicester City. "He knows very well my admiration for him and for this reason it was a good chance to say hello. I have great admiration for great players, Alexis is one of them.
"I don't know [where he will go], you have to ask him which is his choice. Maybe you ask Arsenal, they decide his future."
Conte went onto to explain Sanchez's contract situation at the Emirates means clubs like City and United have a "great chance" of signing him this month.
"If Manchester City want Sanchez, they buy Sanchez," Conte said. "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. 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."
But when asked if he had encouraged Chelsea to compete with the Manchester clubs, he added: "No, no. This is just my opinion, because in the past City showed if they want to take a player, they go and buy this player."