Saturday 18 August 2018

Maurizio Sarri keen to discuss Chelsea future with Hazard and Courtois

Belgium internationals Hazard and Courtois have been heavily linked with Real Madrid.

Maurizio Sarri was unveiled by Chelsea on Wednesday (Steve Paston/PA)
Maurizio Sarri was unveiled by Chelsea on Wednesday (Steve Paston/PA)

By Ed Elliot, Press Association Sport

Maurizio Sarri wants to meet Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois for face-to-face talks in order to convince them their futures lie with Chelsea.

New Blues head coach Sarri faces a battle to keep hold of his star players after replacing Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge.

Belgium internationals Hazard and Courtois, who are recovering having helped their country finish third at the World Cup, have been heavily linked with Real Madrid.

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Eden Hazard has two years remaining on his contract at Chelsea (Nick Potts/PA)

Goalkeeper Courtois has just a year remaining on his Stamford Bridge contract, while forward Hazard has an additional 12 months.

Chelsea’s failure to qualify for the Champions League will not aid Sarri’s cause but he is hopeful his coaching methods can convince the pair to stay.

“The players you are referring to are very high level players and I would like to keep them in my squad,” said the Italian at his unveiling.

“A telephone call without looking them in the eyes would not give me any certainty.

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Thibaut Courtois has been linked with Real Madrid (Peter Byrne/PA)

“I would like to meet these players face to face, talk to them and understand what the best thing to do would be for everyone.

“Before that I would also like a player to come on the pitch for four or five days together with me, to have a clear idea of what the situation is.

“Hazard is a very high-level player. He’s one of the top two or three European players.”

Former Napoli boss Sarri was appointed on a three-year contract on Saturday, just 24 hours after the sacking of compatriot Conte.

Conte’s second season in London was dogged by incessant speculation about his future and his apparent dissatisfaction with the club’s transfer policy.

Sarri appears more diplomatic about recruiting and retaining players. He spoke of his disinterest in the transfer market and said he would be content
to coach the players already at his disposal.

“I feel much more a pitch manager than a general manager,” said Sarri.

“I think that I am one of the few managers who is bored by the transfer market.

“I don’t want to talk about the transfer market and I’m not that interested in it.

“I think our task as managers is growing the players that we have.”

Italy midfielder Jorginho has already followed the 59-year-old from the Stadio San Paolo to London, joining the Blues for around £50million.

Sarri believes central midfield is the area most in need of improvement.

“I spoke with the football club and I said ideally a pinch of quality is lacking in centre midfield for a certain kind of play. Otherwise they’re at a very high level,” he said.

“I cannot claim to come here to Chelsea and change 20 players.

“I must adapt to Chelsea, I must adapt to the available players.”

Despite receiving plaudits for his work in Naples, Sarri failed to deliver silverware – finishing fifth, second and third in Serie A – and has
never won a trophy.

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Maurizio Sarri hopes to win a first trophy at Chelsea (Steve Paston/PA)

Conte’s dismissal followed a Premier League title in 2016/17 and May’s FA Cup success.

Sarri revealed the only target set by Chelsea is to be competitive this season.

He said his primary aim was to enjoy the role without fear of the sack.

“If I was someone who always worried, probably I would do another job. The job means risks, but also a lot of satisfaction,” he said.

“What happened in Chelsea in the past does not concern me. I am not afraid, I don’t want to be afraid.

“My personal objective is to have fun, because I think in life the biggest gift you can receive is have fun while you do your job.”

Press Association

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