Sari takes charge at Juventus

Maurizio Sarri was named as new coach of Juventus after his exit from Chelsea was confirmed by both clubs on Sunday, following a troubled single season in London.

Sarri returns to Italy on a three-year deal just a season after leaving Napoli for Stamford Bridge, where he failed to garner fan support despite winning the Europa League and returning the Blues to the Champions League thanks to a third-placed finish in the Premier League.

“Maurizio Sarri has returned to Italy, where he has coached for the majority of his career. And from today, he will take over the reins at Juventus with a contract until June 30, 2022,” Juventus said in a statement.

The Europa League win last month was Sarri’s first major trophy as a coach, but he will be expected to deliver far more in Turin.

Juventus have won Serie A for the past eight seasons, denying Sarri during his time at Napoli despite posting a club record points tally in each of his three years in charge.

However, Massimiliano Allegri left the Bianconeri at the end of the campaign after failing to guide the Italian giants to Champions League glory despite the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo last year.

With Ronaldo now 34, Juventus’ first Champions League title since 1996 will be Sarri’s top priority.

The Italian champions are keen on the brand of football Sarri imposed during three years at Napoli.

However, questions will be asked of Sarri’s ability to handle a dressing room of big egos at Juventus given his struggles to impose the same style and deal with player relations at Chelsea over the past year

Sarri routinely questioned the mental strength of his squad at Stamford Bridge, claiming they were “difficult to motivate.”

The 60-year-old former banker looked set to leave in February when his authority was questioned after goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted towards the end of the League Cup final to stay on the field for a penalty shootout, which Chelsea lost to Manchester City.

Yet, Sarri did manage to end on a high as Chelsea lost just one of their last eight Premier League games while the other contenders for a top-four finish stumbled towards the end of the season.

Eden Hazard then bade farewell in fitting fashion by scoring twice in a 4-1 rout of Arsenal in the Europa League final to ensure Chelsea again ended the season with a trophy despite the turmoil.

The timing of Juventus’ approach could not have been better for Sarri, though, with success at Chelsea likely to be far tougher for his successor.

Hazard joined Real Madrid last week for a fee in excess of 100 million euros ($113 million), while Chelsea currently cannot recruit a replacement with the club serving a two-window transfer ban handed down by FIFA.

That is likely to lead to a change of tack in appointing the 11th permanent manager of Roman Abramovich’s reign in charge of the club.

Chelsea are expected to try and lure a club legend in Frank Lampard back to Stamford Bridge despite the former midfielder’s relative lack of experience after just one season in management at Derby.

His attempt to lead the Rams back to the Premier League fell just short with defeat to Aston Villa in the Championship playoff final.

However, Lampard’s return would appease a fan base that never took to Sarri and should see Chelsea using the transfer ban as an opportunity to finally prioritise the products of the club’s highly respected academy. AFP

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