Maurizio Sarri has never been fully settled at Chelsea. He arrived late last summer and there has been scepticism regarding his coaching ability from both supporters and the media. However, he managed to deliver a top-four finish and a Europa League triumph in his first season. The Blues will have higher ambitions, but there is no doubting that the Italian coach has laid good foundations from which to build on.
That is why Friday’s news that he could be on the way out represents a bigger blow than the club’s recent transfer ban. Sky in Italy reports that the Chelsea boss wants to leave the club to take the vacant managerial position at Juventus. It is easy to see why the move appeals as he would be taking over one of the best teams in Europe, who are in a stronger position to challenge for major honours than his current team are. As mentioned above, the Blues have a transfer ban to contend with, which is likely to lower their ambition for the short-term future.
Despite the negative image that has been portrayed in England, Sarri has maintained a good reputation in Italy. His work with Napoli highlighted his coaching ability, as a number of players developed strongly under his tutelage. The best example would be Dries Mertens, who transformed from a good winger into a world class striker.
Sarri’s ability to improve the players that he already has at his disposal is a major reason why Chelsea should be bending over backwards to keep him. They are entering a period where they will be unable to bring in new players, therefore, they will have to rely on those on the books. They have an excellent academy, which has been productive in recent seasons. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi highlight the talent that the club does produce on a recent basis. It will be a case that they need to show more faith in these players for the foreseeable future.
There have been countless stories this season that undermine the manager’s authority on the training ground. The Carabao Cup final and the lead up to the Europa League final showed that best. Sarri wasn’t popular with the English media and that fed into the distrust showed by Chelsea supporters.
On the eve of the Europa League final, the differing portrayals of Sarri and his counterpart Unai Emery were maddening. The former has delivered Champions League football and a major trophy, while the latter has failed to meet objectives. However, it seemed that the media were more favourable of the job done by the Arsenal manager.
If this is the end of Sarri at Chelsea, this should be remembered as a huge missed opportunity for Chelsea. The Italian had the potential to make the club more sustainable with a lower reliance on spending big money on high profile signings. In addition, he would have improved the style of football over time, which has been a mission statement for Roman Abramovich for many years.
The Premier League didn’t appreciate Sarri, but he will be missed.