Serie A giants started negotiations with €80m-rated Chelsea star

Antonio Conte is keen to be reunited with N’Golo Kante at Inter Milan if the Serie A giants can afford the Blues star’s wages, according to reports. France international is believed to earn nearly £150,000-a-week at Chelsea, which could prove a stumbling block for a possible move to Serie A.

Conte has challenged for the title with Nerazzurri in his first campaign with the club, but their hopes of winning the Scudetto look slim as they aim to close a six-point gap on leaders Bianconeri with just five games remaining. Kante is under deal until 2023 but is considering leaving Blues at the end of the campaign.

Conte won the Premier League trophy with N’Golo three campaigns ago and would need to persuade the Inter Milan board to commit to a hefty pay packet for a footballer who has only featured in 27 of Chelsea’s 50 games during the current season.

The 29-year-old midfielder has been beset by ankle and hamstring problems and will be unavailable to coach Frank Lampard for the FA Cup semi-final meeting with Man United tomorrow.

Nerazzurri have made a succession of expensive Premier League imports this campaign, although they agreed on a deal with Man United to pay only £5m of Alexis Sanchez’s £21m annual salary before signing the attacker on loan.

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku cost £73m from Man United in August, before Ashley Young also arrived from the Red Devils for £1.5m in the new year and Christian Eriksen signed from Tottenham for £18m later in winter after the Nerazzurri attempted to haggle the price down.