Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has warned Antonio Conte he is facing the biggest challenge of his career at Chelsea.
Conte is rebuilding the Stamford Bridge club following their worst Premier League season under Roman Abramovich’s ownership.
The 47-year-old, who celebrated his birthday this week, is not afraid of a challenge and has been whipping his team into shape on tour in the United States.
He oversaw a fiery victory over Klopp’s Liverpool before being given a reality check by Real Madrid and will sign off against AC Milan.
Klopp is entering his first full season as Liverpool manager but already knows about the demands of the Premier League after dipping his toe into the water last term.
Like Conte, who guided Juventus to three successive Serie A titles between 2011 and 2014, the German enjoyed success in his homeland before heading to England.
Klopp believes it represents the sternest test of any league in the world and has told newcomers Conte and Pep Guardiola it will be difficult to replicate their success.
“I think all these managers are here because the competition makes it really interesting,” Klopp said.
“If you are three times in a row Spanish champions, three times in a row Bundesliga champions, then you think: ‘okay, let’s try something else’.
“If you are looking for the biggest challenge then you need to go to England. That’s the difference 100%. It’s not like they wanted an easier job. They wanted this.
“Winning the title in England is the biggest challenge of them all. There are the most teams who can.
“It’s not easy in Germany where all the clubs take points from each other. If you want to be in front of Bayern Munich, you have to win all the other games and then a minimum of one against Bayern. They don’t lose.
“There are a few teams in England who have always been playing Champions League in recent years but nobody is satisfied. It’s because one other team has always been better.
“In this country it’s a very different kind of difficulty. Here you have a number of clubs who think they should be No 1.
Chelsea's win over Liverpool in California in pictures:
“In Germany there is one team who think they have to be No 1 and one team who think they should be. The rest hope for I don’t know what.”
Meanwhile, Conte will get another chance to run the rule over Diego Costa against Milan after the striker returned to training this week.
Costa has been struggling with a back problem and has not featured in the US so far as Chelsea have looked at other options up front.
Eden Hazard came off the bench to star with a brace against Real Madrid and offers the Blues an alternative to their traditional selection of forwards.
Conte said: “Eden played 30 minutes and he is recovered and in good shape.
“I like him in that position, like a forward, and he can be a good solution for us this season.
“He can play as a winger, but also as a second forward. He must improve his physical shape, but he is working hard.”
Watch Conte's press conference after beating Liverpool: