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Wednesday 17 July 2019

Sarri not busy pestering Chelsea transfers boss during January window

The Blues manager would not be drawn on speculation linking Gonzalo Higuain to the club.

Maurizio Sarri is focusing on on-field matters, not on Chelsea’s transfer activity (John Walton/PA)
Maurizio Sarri is focusing on on-field matters, not on Chelsea’s transfer activity (John Walton/PA)

By Matt McGeehan, Press Association Sport

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri says he is not pestering director Marina Granovskaia to complete transfer deals.

The 60-year-old on Friday declined to be drawn on the possibility of a reunion with Gonzalo Higuain and suggested Alvaro Morata was feeling unsettled by the speculation surrounding his future.

Sarri, speaking at his media conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Arsenal, was asked about Higuain moving to Stamford Bridge and referred to his conversations with Granovskaia, the Blues’ transfer chief and a key confidante of owner Roman Abramovich.

The Argentina striker, who excelled under Sarri at Napoli, is currently on loan at AC Milan from Juventus and is 31, so any possible deal would be a complicated one and contrary to Chelsea’s normal strategy by recruiting a player aged over 30.

Asked how close Higuain was to signing, Sarri, said: “I don’t know. I want to be clear, because I cannot help you (the media).

“I spoke with Marina two weeks ago, so Marina knows very well my opinion on how to improve the team.

“I don’t call her every evening, otherwise I spend all my mental energy on the market and I think it’s better if I spend all my mental energies on the pitch, so I am not able to help you.”

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Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain has been repeatedly linked with a move to Chelsea (Martin Rickett/PA)

Morata, who joined from Real Madrid for £60million in July 2017, has been linked with a move away.

Sarri says the Spain striker could face Arsenal despite recent links with Atletico Madrid.

“For him I think it’s a very difficult moment, but it’s normal for a player in January to be in the market,” added Sarri, who omitted Morata from his squad for last week’s win over Newcastle.

Callum Hudson-Odoi has been linked with a big-money move to Bayern Munich, but Sarri’s discussions with the 18-year-old winger have focused on footballing performances.

The Italian does not believe Hudson-Odoi, whose contract expires in June 2020, has been affected by the speculation.

“I don’t want to talk with him about something that I cannot resolve,” Sarri said.

“Mentally he’s in a very positive moment. On the pitch we are really very happy with him. He’s improving a lot in the last two months.”

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Maurizio Sarri is very happy with Callum Hudson-Odoi’s improvement (John Walton/PA)

The only outgoing player so far this month was Cesc Fabregas, who left a week ago for Monaco.

Sarri says he is “not frustrated” by the Blues’ delay in recruiting a replacement, with Zenit St Petersburg’s Leandro Paredes linked.

With only Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) out, Sarri has choices to make against Arsenal, particularly up front.

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Alvaro Morata was left out of the Chelsea squad to play Newcastle, but could return against Arsenal (Mike Egerton/PA)

Former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud or Morata could start up front, if Sarri goes with a recognised striker, or Eden Hazard could continue in the ‘false nine’ role which the Blues boss believes makes his side more defensively sound.

Hudson-Odoi will also hope to be involved after dropping to the bench against Chelsea.

Chelsea enter the weekend in fourth place and victory at the Emirates Stadium would see them go nine points clear of Arsenal, currently fifth, in the race for Champions League qualification.

This match for us is a risk and an opportunity Maurizio Sarri

“This match for us is a risk and an opportunity,” Sarri said.

“They’re really a very good team. (In) the offensive phase they are one of the best teams in the Premier League.

“We can be dangerous against these opponents, but we have to stay on the match. We have to defend with a very high level of application and attention for 95 minutes.”

PA Media

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