Sarri ‘confident’ key trio will stay at Chelsea
The Italian coach made a winning start but the futures of Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Willian dominate the agenda.
Maurizio Sarri says he is confident of keeping Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Willian at Chelsea and plans to speak to the players by the end of July.
Belgium internationals Hazard and Courtois have been heavily linked with moves to Real Madrid, while Brazilian Willian is reportedly a target for Barcelona.
The influential trio have yet to return for pre-season training as they recover from the World Cup, meaning new Blues manager Sarri must wait to discuss their futures.
Speaking after his first Chelsea game ended in a 1-0 friendly win over Perth Glory, the Italian coach told Sky Sports News: “It’s a pleasure to have Courtois, to have Willian, to have Hazard, but it (their futures) doesn’t depend on me, not only on me.
“So, we have to wait. I’m confident.”
Goalkeeper Courtois has only a year remaining on his contract, while forwards Hazard and Willian each have an additional 12 months.
Asked when he would have a chance to talk to the players, Sarri added: “Face to face, I think at the end of the month because they will come to Cobham (training ground) at the end of the month.”
Italian Sarri has plenty to sort out at Stamford Bridge, with the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League not helping his cause to convince key players to stay.
Defender David Luiz, who became a peripheral figure under Antonio Conte last season, played the full 90 minutes in Perth as he attempts to get his career back on track.
He believes the club must keep hold of their best players, while backing compatriot Willian to remain in west London.
“I think that the press sell the players every single year. They buy players, they sell players,” he said.
“I hope the trio can stay because they are fantastic players, fantastic talents and we need the best players in Chelsea.
“I speak to Willian almost every day, he loves to play for Chelsea. I think he’s going to stay.”
Sarri has had little chance to impose his tactics or philosophy on his new squad after the club jetted off Down Under in the immediate aftermath of his unveiling last week.
Spanish forward Pedro scored the only goal at the Optus Stadium, netting inside five minutes.
While N’Golo Kante, Gary Cahill, and Andreas Christensen were among the other important absentees, there was a debut for £50million midfielder Jorginho.
Sarri, who replaced the sacked Conte on July 14, was satisfied with some of his side’s display but admits they have to improve “very quickly”.
According to the club’s Twitter account, Sarri and his team immediately boarded a flight back to London after the game, and the 59-year-old is keen to start working with his players at Cobham.
“The result was not the mirror of the game, but the performance is more important in this period,” the former Napoli boss told chelseafc.com.
“I am satisfied by the performance in the first half and the first 15 minutes of the second half, not the last 30 minutes.
“We have to go back to Cobham and work very hard. We know we have to improve very quickly.
“I expect us to improve match by match. It’s not easy at this moment because we are without 12 players from the World Cup.”
FA Cup holders Chelsea face Manchester City in the Community Shield on August 5 before beginning their Premier League campaign at Huddersfield six days later.
Sarri’s second game in charge will be a friendly against Inter Milan next Saturday.