Belfast Telegraph

Transfer ban will stop Chelsea challenging next season, admits Sarri

Chelsea v Ein. Frankfurt, Europa League Semi-Final, Second Leg (Agg 1-1): Stamford Bridge, Tonight, 8pm

Signing embargo: Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri
Signing embargo: Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri

By Nick Purewal

Maurizio Sarri believes Chelsea cannot catch Premier League pacesetters Manchester City and Liverpool next season without overturning their two-window transfer ban.

Chelsea will take their fight against Fifa's two-window transfer embargo to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with head coach Sarri admitting the Blues will struggle to chase next term's league title without new recruits.

The Premier League club "categorically refutes" Fifa's latest findings, after the game's governing body rejected the Blues' appeal against the transfer embargo for signing underage players.

Chelsea were fined £460,000 for 29 breaches of the international transfer rules on minors, and Fifa threw out the Blues' appeal yesterday.

"It's very difficult to cover the gap at the moment; we need to work, probably we need to do something from the market," said Sarri, whose side will bid to progress to the Europa League final when they host Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of their semi-final tie tonight.

"So it's not easy, because the level of the top two is very, very high.

"Of course, we have to work and we have to try. In my opinion, we can reduce the gap.

"I think that we have to buy only one, two players, otherwise it's very difficult to improve immediately.

"I think we are a very good team, so we need only one, two players, no more."

Fifa confirmed it has "partially upheld" Chelsea's appeal, but only in allowing the club to sign European players aged under 16.

The ban on signing over-16s and the fine remain in place, leaving Chelsea hugely frustrated. The Blues will now hope that CAS will force a suspension of the ban pending another appeal, but Fifa will likely be in opposition.

Sarri remains intent on remaining at Chelsea next season, despite continued uncertainty about his position.

The former Napoli manager insists he would manage without new senior faces next term, despite the clear constraints.

Asked if he would be ready to promote youth talents to the first team next term, Sarri said: "I like to play with young players, so for me it's not a big problem.

"Every month I have a report about the players on loan, we have 45 or 46 players on loan.

"Of course, we need to consider who is ready. Two or three of those players are very interesting of course. But we need to consider the level."

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