The 57-year-old was one of several names on Chelsea’s shortlist last summer as the club looked to appoint a successor to interim boss Guus Hiddink.
And Sampaoli, who was manager of Chile for four years, says he was ready to leave his position following Chelsea’s approach.
Jorge Sampaoli came close to joining Chelsea last summer Premier League PFA Player of the Year odds Sat, March 25, 2017
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I had other options but when Mr Abramovich came to talk I was high on his list and then came the decision to go with Conte
He told The Sun: ”The Chilean Federation wanted to keep me no matter what.
“But I explained I could not stay as there was a chance of becoming Chelsea manager.
“I had other options but when Mr Abramovich came to talk I was high on his list and then came the decision to go with Conte.
“It was a football chat, an analysis of all the Chelsea players, those on loan, the ones we wanted to sign to strengthen the following summer. We talked about Chelsea’s academy players, the way of coaching the team.
Roman Abramovich held talks with Jorge Sampaoli Chelsea player ratings against Bournemouth Sat, April 8, 2017
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“It was a very long conversation, very enriching. It was about football and life at Chelsea. He loves the game and wants to learn.
“It was special that he dedicated so many hours in such a long meeting. It gave me the chance to show him I knew Chelsea extensively across many aspects of the club and had particular ideas about their future.”
Sampaoli still has a year to left to run on his Sevilla contract but has been widely tipped to take charge of Argentina.