Diego Lopez reveals Antonio Conte wanted him at Chelsea, but now eyes permanent Espanyol move

Tony Mogan
Diego Lopez

Espanyol loanee Diego Lopez says he will pursue a permanent move to the La Liga club despite Antonio Conte's attempts to sign him at Chelsea.

Lopez was initially linked with a move to Stamford Bridge last summer when he became surplus to requirements at parent club AC Milan, having been usurped by teenage wunderkind Gianluigi Donnarumma.

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The 35-year-old rediscovered some fine form while back in Spain and again saw himself linked with moves to the Premier League during the January transfer window. The former Villarreal shot-stopper was touted as the Blues' favoured choice to come in and replace Asmir Begovic as the club's second choice goalkeeper following Bournemouth's attempts to sign the Chelsea no. 2.

At the time, Lopez welcomed the interest from Conte's side, but insisted his priority was to remain with Espanyol for the remainder of 2016-17 campaign.

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Lopez is unsure whether Chelsea's interest will return at the end of the season, having already been contacted by Conte last summer. The goalkeeper was not able to definitively say whether he would reject the Premier League giants, but admits his priority is now to seal a permanent move to the Catalan side.

"There was an opportunity last summer," he was quoted as saying by AS on the subject of joining Chelsea. "I was very flattered by the manager's interest. I don't know if it will be maintained this summer. Last year it was a priority option but now things have changed, and I don't know what will happen, it's one of the big clubs in Europe and it will probably win the Premier League."

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"My idea has not changed at all and my intention is to continue at Espanyol. I hope it happens."

Chelsea could still be in the market for a new second-choice goalkeeper this summer should Bournemouth rekindle their interest in Begovic. Celtic's Craig Gordon was the subject of two bids from the English Premier League leaders during the January transfer window as Conte searched for a new backup for Thibaut Courtois, but the Scotland international has since signed a new contract with the Scottish champions.

The Blues meanwhile remain persistently linked with another Spaniard in Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, who has admitted he would be keen to work under Conte at Stamford Bridge.

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