Football

Sarri confirmed as new Chelsea boss

Former Napoli coach moves to Stamford Bridge, along with midfielder Jorginho

Chelsea finally got their man on Saturday with Maurizio Sarri succeeding Antonio Conte as manager on a three-year deal after the conclusion of protracted negotiations over compensation.

The 59-year-old former Napoli coach becomes Roman Abramovich’s ninth full-time manager in his 15 years as owner (with interim bosses, that rises to 13) less than 24 hours after Conte parted company with the club he led to a league title and the FA Cup in his two years there.

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said: “We are delighted to welcome Maurizio and are looking forward to him bringing his football philosophy to Chelsea.”

Napoli are believed to have held out for at least £4.5 million (S$8.13m) in compensation while, according to reports, Sarri will be paid £5.7 million a year.

He had remained under contract with them even after they appointed Carlo Ancelotti as his successor Sarri, a chain-smoking former banker, said he would be starting his new job “and meeting the players” on Monday ahead of Chelsea’s pre-season Australia tour.

“I hope we can provide some entertaining football for our fans, and that we will be competing for trophies at the end of the season, which is what this club deserves,” he said.

Winning trophies didn’t save Conte being shown the Stamford Bridge exit door and he didn’t even get a chance to say farewell to the players once he had been officially notified by chairman Bruce Buck on Thursday afternoon as they had left the training ground.

His days were numbered after he fell out with the board and senior players with Brazilian star Willian pointedly placing three emojis over Conte in the photo of the squad and the backroom staff after winning the FA Cup in a social media posting.

Chelsea believe they have got in Sarri an astute tactician who produces sides playing exciting football with his three years at Napoli harvesting two second-placed finishes in Serie A.

Indeed his style of football gained him the rare tribute of having it termed “ Sarri-ball”.

‘attacking approach'

Sarri was also credited with nurturing young talent, although there were gripes that he wasn’t one for rotating the squad – a habit he may have to change with the more frenetic programme in England – leaving several players drained and others not happy they were left kicking their heels.

As the Chelsea players will discover, he has his superstitions, Napoli’s Belgian forward Dries Mertens noted how they trained on the one training pitch until they lost a game and then changed to another.

However, Granovskaia, a close confidante of Abramovich’s, said that even though the unconventional Sarri is yet to win a trophy, his style of play will prove a crowd pleaser at the very least.

“Maurizio’s Napoli side played some of the most exciting football in Europe, impressing with their attacking approach and dynamism, and his coaching methods significantly improved the players at his disposal,” noted Granovskaia.

She added: “He has plenty of experience in Serie A and the Champions League and we know he is relishing the chance to work in the Premier League.”

In terms of bringing in new faces, Sarri will be joined by Napoli’s Brazil-born Italy international midfielder Jorginho, who was also courted by Manchester City.

CSKA Moscow’s Russian playmaker Aleksandr Golovin and Italian defender Daniele Rugani from Juventus, the side that edged Napoli in the Serie A title race, are believed to be Chelsea's next targets.

Chelsea finally put an end to Conte’s two-year reign on Friday with an extremely terse statement of less than 70 words reflecting how much their relations had deteriorated.

Conte’s win percentage of 65.1 is the best of any of Chelsea’s managers in the Premier League era, but the failure to secure Champions League football, was the perfect excuse for a board he had alienated through his dismissive treatment of Spanish striker Diego Costa and carping constantly that the top players weren’t being replaced by those of similar quality. – AFP

chelseaAntonio ConteMaurizio SarriJorginho