Monday, October 15, 2018 | ePaper

Chelsea ready to kick-start Sarri era after frantic deadline

  • Print
AFP, Huddersfield :
A frantic 48 hours in the transfer market provided Chelsea with a timely lift after last weekend's Community Shield defeat to Manchester City.
The 2-0 loss left new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri to rue the difference between the two teams, with Pep Guardiola's champions looking sharper and fitter than the Italian's side.
Sarri has been in post for less than four weeks and the last thing he needed was to go into the first game of the new season at Huddersfield on Saturday against the backdrop of a protracted stand-off between the club and keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Courtois's decision to stay away from the club this week in a bid to force a move to Real Madrid could have had a negative impact at Stamford Bridge, reviving memories of the dispute with Diego Costa 12 months earlier.
But Chelsea moved quickly to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao for Å“71.6 million - a world record for a keeper - on a seven-year contract, triggering Courtois's exit to Real.
As part of the deal for the Belgian, Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic moved in the opposite direction on a season-long loan.
For a club desperate to progress after a fractious campaign that was marred by a rift between coach Antonio Conte and the club and ended with a disappointing fifth placed finish, it was good business all round.
Now, Sarri must do all he can to prevent Eden Hazard following his international team-mate to Madrid, although the current signs are the Belgium star has been convinced to stay.
Courtois, though, did little to restore his already damaged reputation at his former club when he expressed his hope Hazard would join him when he was presented at the Bernabeu Stadium.
"Eden congratulated me," he said. "He knows it is a dream for me to be here. I would like to be always by his side.
"He is a great player and if he could come here, it would be fantastic."
Sarri, the former Napoli coach, can continue his efforts to introduce the 4-3-3 system he used so successfully in Serie A after two seasons of 3-4-3 under Conte.
The Wembley clash against City confirmed there is plenty of work to do and it may be some time before Sarri finally settles on his two central defenders.
David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger appear to be his first choice right now, but Luiz in particular looked shaky against City.
And in midfield, Kovacic is likely to join Jorginho and N'Golo Kante to strengthen an area that was overrun by the champions.
This weekend, though, the main focus will be on Arrizabalaga if, as expected, the 23-year-old takes his first steps in English football.
Kepa's compatriot David De Gea took time to settle when he first arrived at Manchester United and the former Bilbao man acknowledges he will need to adapt.
"This is a great challenge for me and it means a lot for my career and also in my personal life," he said.
"It is a great step forward for my career. It is also very brave for the club to take me in.
"In terms of the price, me being the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, it is something I just don't think about.

More News For this Category

Youth Women's Handball: Jamalpur, Naogaon reach final

Jamalpur and Naogaon DSAs reached to the final of the 5th Walton National Youth Women's Handball Championship eliminating their rivals in the semifinals at the Shaheed Capt (Retd) M Mansur

Vermaelen out for six weeks with hamstring injury

Barcelona's Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen will be sidelined for around six weeks after picking up a right hamstring injury while on international duty, the Spanish giants said Monday.The 32-year-old, who

Thais dominate in first Pakistan golf tour for decade

Jubilant Thai golfer Tirawat Kaewsiribandit soared to victory Sunday in the first international golf event to be held in Pakistan for over a decade."It was difficult in the beginning but

Bolt fumes over drug test notice

Sprint legend Usain Bolt says he's stunned after being handed a drug testing notice despite retiring from athletics and having no professional contract as he bids to launch a football

Knee fracture set to end injury-plagued Del Potro's season

Injury-plagued Juan Martin del Potro is set to miss the rest of the season after it was revealed Sunday the giant Argentine had fractured his knee at the Shanghai Masters."It's

In this photo provided by the OIS/IOC, Agustina Sofia Giannasio competes in the Semifinal of the Archery Mixed International Team Event at the Archery Range in Tecnopolis Park at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Sunday.

In this photo provided by the OIS/IOC, Agustina Sofia Giannasio competes in the Semifinal of the Archery Mixed International Team Event at the Archery Range in Tecnopolis Park at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Sunday.

Inquest into Roebuck death set to be reopened

An inquest into the supposed suicide of renowned cricket writer Peter Roebuck in South Africa in 2011 is set to be reopened, his former employer reported Monday.  English-born Roebuck, 55,

Djokovic wins fourth Shanghai title

Djokovic wins fourth Shanghai title

Novak Djokovic continued his scintillating run of form as he breezed past Croatian Borna Coric 6-3 6-4 to win the Shanghai Masters title for the fourth time on Sunday.With a

Papalii gets surprise nod for All Blacks tour

The All Blacks named uncapped flanker Dalton Papalii on Monday in a 32-man squad for a Test against Australia in Japan and their tour involving matches against England, Ireland and

Kenya officials charged in Olympic corruption inquiry

Seven senior Kenyan officials will be charged over alleged corruption surrounding the 2016 Olympic Games, the country's chief prosecutor said.Those accused include ex-Sports Minister Hassan Wario and former Olympic Committee