Joey Barton has claimed that Everton midfielder Ross Barkley rejected Chelsea because he could not contact Antonio Conte, who had his phone switched off.
The two clubs agreed a £35m fee for the England international, but he decided against the move at the last minute.
And Barton has now revealed that Conte’s decision to turn off his phone may have been what scuppered the potential transfer.
“I heard a really interesting thing about what happened with the Ross Barkley transfer,” the former Manchester City midfielder told talkSPORT. “Conte turned his phone off and Barkley’s representatives were trying to contact him.
“He wanted to say: ‘Look, where am I going to play’, and Conte turned his phone off. That is why Barkley got cold feet and never signed. He thought: ‘Well, if the manager isn’t answering the phone to me he clearly doesn’t want me’, and that is why he went back to Everton.”
Chelsea’s failure to sign Barkley followed previous unsuccessful attempts earlier in the summer to bring in Romelu Lukaku and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Conte had repeatedly expressed his concern over the Bliues’ lack of squad depth prior to the close of the transfer window, although full-back Davide Zappacosta and midfielder Danny Drinkwater were brought in on deadline day.
Both Chelsea and Tottenham are expected to renew their attempt to sign Barkley in January, with the 23-year-old out of contract in the summer.
Barkley took to Twitter after the collapse of the Chelsea deal, and wrote: “I simply decided that due to my injury, it would be best to make a decision on my future and assess all my options in January when fully fit.”