Sarri wants Hazard talks to discuss Chelsea future

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Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri says Eden Hazard is one of the top two or three players in Europe and he wants to meet the Belgium forward face-to-face to discuss his future.
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Reuters

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri poses with the club shirt as he attends his unveiling press conference at Stamford Bridge in west London yesterday.

Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri says Eden Hazard is one of the top two or three players in Europe and he wants to meet the Belgium forward face-to-face to discuss his future.

Hazard said at the World Cup in Russia that “it might be time to discover something different” after spending the last six years with Chelsea. He has been linked with a move to European champion Real Madrid, which recently sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.

Hazard is taking time off after the World Cup along with Belgium teammate Thibaut Courtois, whose future is also the matter of some debate.

Sarri said he doesn’t just want to phone the players who have yet to return to preseason training because a “telephone call without looking in their eyes will not give any certainty. I want to meet them face-to-face and understand what’s the best thing to do for everyone”.

Sarri said Hazard is “one of the top two or three European players”, adding that he hopes “to improve Hazard but that will be difficult”.

But Sarri added that the futures of the Belgium duo can be decided by the Chelsea board.

The 59-year-old Italian speaking at his unveiling in London, after being appointed the successor to sacked compatriot Antonio Conte, admitted to being disinterested by the transfer market.

This will be music to the board’s ears as one of the reasons for Conte’s falling out badly with them shortly after guiding the club to the English Premier League title in 2017 was his carping over a lack of say in buying new players and the ones being bought were not of the same level to those who left.

Hazard and Courtois both shone at the World Cup — the latter winning the Golden Glove for goalkeeper of the tournament as Belgium finished a best-ever third — but with their contracts running down have been linked with moves to Spain.

Real is prepared to pay a reported 200 million pounds (US$260million) for Hazard.

Sarri, who forged his reputation in charge of Napoli guiding it to runner-up twice and third in his other season, said of course it would be for the better to keep the best players but at the end of the day it isn’t his priority.

“Clearly we would always like to keep all the strongest players,” said Sarri, who began in English but switched to Italian so he did not “say anything wrong”.

“This is what any manager wants to do, this is what any club wants to do.

“Then we will have to see how the transfer market goes over the next few days. 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.”

Italy midfielder Jorginho has followed Sarri from Napoli to become Chelsea’s first signing of the close season and the manager is keen to strengthen his midfield further. “I spoke with the club and I said a pinch of quality is lacking in our midfield for a certain kind of play.”

Sarri, a chain-smoking former banker, said he came to the Chelsea job with an open mind and had chosen not to ask his successor at Napoli and former Chelsea handler Carlo Ancelotti for any advise or insight into a post that has seen many different faces down the years since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

“Well, for me this is a difficult challenge, but a fascinating one,” said Sarri. “I know this will be an extremely difficult challenge for me. I have not asked anything of anyone.”

Chelsea opens its campaign in the Community Shield against Manchester City on August 5. It visits Huddersfield Town in its league opener six days later.


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