Antonio Conte on Oscar's Chelsea exit: Before the money must be the passion

LONDON -- Antonio Conte admits he will be sorry to see Oscar leave Chelsea for Shanghai SIPG in a £60 million deal, and says he can understand why some players and coaches decide to swap European football for the riches on offer from Chinese Super League clubs.

Oscar was quoted by Brazilian network Globo on Wednesday as saying he has "90 percent" completed the move that will massively increase his £90,000-a-week wages and make him Chelsea's record sale, eclipsing the £50 million received from Paris Saint-Germain for David Luiz in the summer of 2014.

Conte believes love for football should always come before money and is adamant that the Premier League is the best in the world, but concedes that even he would have to think about it if a Chinese Super League club came calling with a lucrative offer.

"Oscar is a really good player," Conte said. "For me, I was very proud to have him in my squad and have him as my player. I'm proud of his attitude, his commitment and his behaviour, which have been fantastic.

"I have great respect for every decision made by a single player. If you ask me, 'are you sorry?' then yes, I am sorry. I am sorry because he's leaving as a really good player and a really good man. I must be honest about this. But, also, I understand him."

Asked what he would do if presented with huge sums of money to coach in China, Conte replied: "For sure, you can think for one second, or 10 seconds, but it's very difficult not to think about it. Above all if the offer is amazing, is incredible.

"For this reason, I think I can understand if some players say yes to this. Sometimes it's very difficult to face this situation. But I think, also, that we are in the best league. Now, to arrive in the Premier League is a great opportunity to fight for the title against fantastic players and coaches.

"England is the best in the world if you have ambition to test yourself against the other teams with this reality.

"I think the most important thing for us must be the passion. The passion for football. If you haven't got that, it's no good. No good. I repeat: This concept is very important. Before the money must be the passion, the passion for the sport, for football.

"We started to play when we were children without money, and only for the passion. Then, also, came money but the passion is more important, for me."

The move to Shanghai SIPG would see Oscar link up with former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, as well as fellow Brazilians Hulk and Elkeson.

A formal announcement of the deal is expected to be made in the coming days.