Friday 23 August 2019

Chelsea facing major upheaval as Maurizio Sarri and star man Eden Hazard line up exits

Chelsea's Eden Hazard
Chelsea's Eden Hazard

Matt Law

Chelsea are locked in talks over the exits of both Maurizio Sarri and Eden Hazard in what promises to be another summer of change, even if the club remain banned from signing new players.

Sarri is expected to put the finishing touches to his move to Juventus, leaving Chelsea in search of another new head coach.

And the Blues are holding face-to-face meetings with Real Madrid this week over the sale of Hazard, with the two clubs yet to agree on a fee.

Real officials have travelled to London in an attempt to try to clinch a deal for Hazard, who Chelsea value at £130million, including bonuses.

That is around £40m higher than Real’s last offer, but the Spaniards want to tie up Hazard’s signing and hope to strike a compromise.

Chelsea have already started to draw up a list of possible successors to Sarri, who has told the club he wants to return to Italy and take over at Juve.

The £5m compensation Chelsea have demanded from Juve is likely to be swallowed into the outstanding repayment owed for striker Gonzalo Higuain’s January loan move.

Frank Lampard is one name in the frame, but is not yet rated the overwhelming favourite he has already been made by some bookies.  Other managers and coaches to come under consideration are likely to be Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Nuno Espirito Santo, Watford’s Javi Gracia and England assistant Steve Holland.

Former Juventus coach Max Allegri is available and interested in moving to the Premier League, but Chelsea may be reluctant to appoint a third successive Italian given some of the problems Sarri and Antonio Conte experienced.

Whoever takes over from Sarri is likely to have to work closely with Petr Cech, who is returning to Chelsea following his playing retirement.

Cech’s job title is not yet clear, but he is expected to take on a technical role working closely between the first team and the board.

His former team-mate Lampard did an impressive job during his first year of management at Derby, losing in the Championship play-off final to Aston Villa, but there is acceptance on all sides that taking the Chelsea job so soon in his career would be a big jump.

It is hard to imagine that Lampard would be able to turn down an offer from Chelsea, but the loss of Hazard, together with a transfer ban, means any new man may need more time than the club have previously been willing to grant their head coaches.

Indeed, Sarri felt that his job of trying to improve on his first, and most likely only, season at Chelsea could have been made impossible by circumstances outside his control.

Having won the Europa League and finished third in the Premier League, Sarri turned around a season in which he was almost sacked and midfielder Jorginho believes that in doing so both he and Sarri proved their critics wrong.

Jorginho moved to Chelsea with Sarri from Napoli and said: “He did a good job for Chelsea. I think it was a great season, and I’d hate to see him go.

“The Napoli fans still have him in their hearts, it’s normal that they can get angry. They’re passionate, they can give you everything. They could treat it (joining Juventus) as a betrayal, they’re like that. ”

On himself, Jorginho added: “The criticism was probably because of the football culture in England. People weren’t used to seeing a player like me in front of the defence.

“I read the game more and have less physical presence. For the fans, it was all very different and then they blamed me when the results weren’t coming.

“But ultimately I proved that they were wrong about me.” (©Daily Telegraph)

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