This should come as little surprise. Sarri would offer Chelsea a clear identity if he were to take charge, the Italian would undoubtedly bring the Stamford Bridge faithful the free-flowing attacking they have craved for so long
Roman Abramovich has long desired Chelsea to adopt a free flowing attacking philosophy, demanding the likes of Jose Mourinho in the past to focus on building a more attacking Chelsea. Such an approach that has ultimately proved foreign and unnatural to the likes of Mourinho and Conte.
If Chelsea were to appoint Sarri, the move would represent the addition of yet another exciting, attack minded manager to the Premier League, joining the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, and Pep Guardiola – who previously declared he was ‘in love’ with Sarri’s Napoli.
Ever since Pep Guardiola’s rise at Barcelona in 2008 – players, fans and board members alike have become less and less accepting of the pragmatic manager, demonstrated in how unfashionable Jose Mourinho has become in recent years.
And this is the direction in which European football has been heading ever since, as exemplified by the fact that there have been 68 more goals scored in this year’s UEFA Champions League campaign than in the 2008/09 edition. Although this approach has often resulted in the detriment of effective defending, two team’s that live to outscore their opponents – Real Madrid and Liverpool – will face each other in the Champions League final.
Sarri too lives by an attacking mantra, his Napoli side have plundered 200 goals in 84 Serie A games during his tenure at Napoli – by contrast, soon to crowned champions Juventus have scored 173 goals during that time.
The 59-year-old is unlike almost all Italian managers. Sarri cares little for the cynical, defensive football that Italy has come to be defined by, once saying that: “If I saw my team defending and counter-attacking after 30 minutes, I would get up and return to the bank because I would not be having fun.”
Sarri’s rise to the pinnacle of club management is similarly unprecedented, his playing career progressed no further than amateur level and he worked as banker until the age of 40. Coaching in his free time, Sarri progressed from Italy’s fifth division, finally getting his big break in his mid-50s. Serie B side Empoli hiring him after surviving their 2011/12 relegation playoff.
Conte’s very public disputes with the Chelsea hierarchy over Chelsea’s lack of transfer dealings largely explains why the Italian will be departing the club in the summer and in Sarri, Chelsea would have a manager who pays little care to the transfer market, instead preferring to coach and develop his players. At Napoli, Sarri’s first XI cost a measly £74m to construct.
This would suit Chelsea, who have one of the finest youth systems in world football for which to pull resources from.
Sarri’s appointment at Napoli, after just a single Serie A campaign under his belt was met with scepticism, however the manager took little time to endear himself to the doubters.
His appointment would represent a similar risk for Chelsea, as Sarri is yet to work outside of Italy and whether or not his style would be suited to the English game remains to be seen.
However, Chelsea will take encouragement from Pep Guardiola’s success, with both managers sharing very similar principals. Sarri will also be keen on the move, at the age of 59 and only landing his first big pay cheque at 53, he will be ready to cash in on his career and rightly so.