Sport Soccer

Monday 19 August 2019

Maurizio Sarri insists Roman Abramovich retains hands-on role at Chelsea

Abramovich’s long-term commitment to the club has been questioned.

Roman Abramovich (Rebecca Naden/PA)
Roman Abramovich (Rebecca Naden/PA)

By Nick Purewal, Press Association Sport

Maurizio Sarri believes Roman Abramovich is still committed to Chelsea.

Chelsea’s billionaire owner has opted not to pay up front for a corporate hospitality box at Stamford Bridge, as revealed in accounts lodged with Companies House.

Abramovich has taken Israeli citizenship which means he can visit the UK visa-free for up to six months at a time, but cannot work in the country.

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Roman Abramovich arrived at Chelsea in 2003 (Jed Leicester/PA)

The 52-year-old has owned Chelsea since 2003 but recent issues with his UK visa had led to speculation he would seek to sell the club – though head coach Sarri insists Abramovich retains a hands-on role at Stamford Bridge.

“He has some problems now, but he is involved with the club, with the team,” said Sarri.

“He is the owner, and so he is able to influence the technical staff, the club, the players, everything I think.

“Also in Naples (Sarri’s former club), the president Aurelio (De Laurentiis) wasn’t in the training ground every day. He was in the training ground once a month, no more. So it’s really very similar.”

Sarri revealed his assistant Gianfranco Zola speaks more regularly to Abramovich, given the ex-Chelsea forward’s superior English.

Asked how much contact he has with the club’s owner, Sarri said: “More Zola than me. Because Zola speaks English better than me, of course.”

Chelsea will host West Ham on Monday night as their bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League intensifies.

Academy graduates Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are expected to play a key part between now and the end of the campaign.

Both young English talents shone in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Brighton in midweek, but Sarri rejected suggestions he had been urged by club bosses to hand both men more playing time.

Asked if he was under pressure to select Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek, Sarri replied: “No. It’s up to the players, they are improving.

“In this moment of the season, they are fresh. So I think that, in this moment, they are really very important for us.

“But at the beginning of the season, Odoi had a very great potential but wasn’t ready to play in the Premier League.

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been in sparkling form for Chelsea (Adam Davy/PA)

“Loftus the same. He had only to adapt to my football, to improve tactically for my football.

“Then he had a lot of problems with his back, and so we had to wait for him. But now they are fresh; they are ready.”

Sarri also confirmed he wants to see France striker Olivier Giroud stay at Chelsea beyond the summer.

The World Cup winner’s contract expires at the end of the season, though Chelsea have the option to extend that deal for another year.

Asked if he wants to hold on to Giroud, Sarri said: “Yes, of course. I know the club have an option for another season, so I think he will remain.”

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