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Sarri Faces Tough Chelsea Assignment

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It took Chelsea nearly 2 months but this week finally football's worst kept secret was in open air as the Premier League side sacked title winning manager Antonio Conte and replaced him with fellow Italian Maurizio Sarri, formely of Napoli. 

The 59 year old has signed a three-year-deal with the West London club and, should he see out the length of his contract, would become the second longest serving Chelsea manager in the Abramovich era, with only Jose Mourinho lasting longer during his first spell.

Sarri replaces in Conte, a manager who reinspired Chelsea on his arrival, galvanising a side that finished 10th the season prior to his arrival to league winners, winning 30 games.

Conte's change to a three at the back system during a hammering away at Arsenal early in his reign will be remembered as his legacy in the Premier League, inspiring not only other sides but even national teams including England to use versions of the sysem to such great effect.

Conte's political bickerings however with the board, that began last summer, started a downfall which could only be seen with one result, especially mixed in with Chelsea's poor form on the pitch, which saw them finish outside the top four for the second time in three seasons. 

Sarri's task hasn't been made any easier by the fact he has rouhgly three weeks to prepare his side before facing Manchester City in the Community Shield. The services of players such as Eden Hazard and N'golo Kante (should they both remain at the club) won't be avaialble until the week leading up to the game with the club granting them extended leave following long World Cup's. 

The failings of Chelsea in the transfer market is what ultimatley led to the breakdown between themselves and Conte. Changes to the window now mean an early Augusyt deadline, which doesn't make things any easier for Sarri, who now has three weeks to put together his squad and won't have them all toegther until days before the season actually kicks off.

The future of star player Eden Hazard is uncertain, with Real Madrid sniffing, who look set to poach goalkeeper Thiabut Courtois in the coming weeks. Sarri said he would "look every player that wants to leave in the eye" before deciding however may not have the choice.

Should Courtois leave, Chelsea coud have serious problems in replacing the Belgian, with target Alisson set to join Liverpool and such developements have led to rumours the club could even re-sign former goalkeeper Petr Cech as a short term replacement whilst they search for a younger, long term replacement.

Sarri also has an issue finding a number nine for his team, with Conte having sold Diego Costa last season and replacing him with Alvaro Morata, who could only musture 11 Premier League goals last term. Reports suggest Sarri is set to gamble with Argentine Gonzalo Higuain, who he enjoyed success with at Napoli, notching 36 goals for Sarri during the 2015/2016 season.

Chelsea have also been hevailly linked to Russian winger Alexsandr Golovin, who was very impressive for the hosts in the recent World Cup but it has been suggested Barcelona have also entered the equation with an 11th hour bid to prize him to the Nou Camp, which would be a bitter blow to the Blues, who have already prized away Brazilian Jorginho, who was set to join Champions Manchester City but his preference was for not only London but the chance to one again hook up with Sarri.

The Italian has a difficult road ahead that is for sure but should he be able to get his targets in the transfer window and convince Eden Hazard to stay, you wouldn't write off Chelsea at all next season. Stranger things have happened. 

 

Image rights - Wikimedia Commons - https://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sarri-conferenza-752x440.jpg

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bensutherland/16791414772 

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