Next Chelsea manager: What Pochettino, Guardiola & Maradona said about ‘genius’ Maurizio Sarri

Chelsea fans had become somewhat frustrated with Antonio Conte’s style of football at the club with the Italian constantly criticised last season for his negative tactics.

That frustration boiled over for many supporters during the Premier League defeat at Manchester City when Eden Hazard was made to play in the false nine position and the Blues put in an inept display against the champions.

However, Maurizio Sarri will soon be arriving from Napoli having clinched an amazing 91 points but still only managing to come second in the Serie A table to Juventus, a feat that won Sarri a lot of plaudits.

His style of football has impressed a lot of people and the 59-year-old is close to taking the helm at Chelsea after more than month of frustrating back and forth with his former employers.

But what has he said about the style of play that has been dubbed ‘Sarri-ball’ by many supporters?

Maurizio Sarri – February 2017

“I worked more or less the same way as I do now. I always asked to most from my players and fortunately I’ve had some great groups of guys. They were professional without being professional. I’ve also coached professionals who weren’t very professional,” he told Napoli football.

“It’s important for me to surround myself with people whom I admire and love because all the work I do, I do it for them as well. In fact, I feel more responsible to succeed for them than I do for myself. It might be a limit but it might be a strength as well. I feel responsible to bring happiness to those who admire and love me.

“We are an entertaining squad to watch. We play with skill and speed. We have some limits like not always being able to extract from a match everything we deserve. We don’t always get the right result. At the moment this is our limit. This year we are a much younger team but have to take that next step to improve our mentality.”

Maradona when Sarri took over at Napoli – September 2015

“I have great respect for Sarri,” the 54-year-old told +N Pienne. “But we won’t have a winning Napoli with him.

“I’d have kept Benitez, who went to Real Madrid, which confirms his work and the fact he’s not lacking in admirers around the world.

“The two points from three games seems to be deserved. This Napoli team doesn’t have a good style of play, or a defence that offers the peace of mind to be able to dream big.

“This Napoli will struggle to finish in mid-table, I’m angry because they didn’t deserve this downsizing.

“It reminds me of my first Napoli team, where we were struggling to avoid relegation, and that’s my biggest fear.

“Sarri is a good person, but he’s not worthy of Napoli. For him to be on the bench is a great gift. They needed a coach who understands the size and prestige of the club.

“But the fault lies with those who put him on the bench.”

Maradona apologising to Sarri – November 2015

“I was wrong about Sarri,” he told Corriere del Mezzogiorno. “I ask for forgiveness.”

Mauricio Pochettino – February 2018

“Napoli can win the Scudetto. Maurizio Sarri’s side play the most beautiful football in Europe and whenever I get the chance, I always like to watch the Azzurri games,” he was quoted as saying by Sports Illustrated.

“They will fight to the end with Juventus for the Scudetto. I have no need to give Sarri advice on how to deal with Juve, as he is already one of the best coaches in the world.

“Sarri is Sarri and Pep Guardiola is Guardiola, they both have their own style that they try to improve day after day.”

Pep Guardiola – May 2018

“If he comes to England, it would be a pleasure. For somebody like me, who loves watching games at home on the sofa, Napoli are spectacular and his brand of football is a joy to watch.

“Often a coach is judged on wins, but you’ve also got to look at the shape as well as the substance – Sarri had Empoli and Napoli playing great football, and he did a fantastic job.”

Kalidou Koulibaly – October 2017

“He rediscovered me, he gave me confidence,” Koulibaly told Il Messaggero.

“He really is a genius, he sees things others don’t see. He makes you understand how football is and isn’t unpredictable. He’s a scholar.

“Any question you ask him, he always has an answer – and it’s always right. He helps you to think as a team and not as an individual.

“When he arrived he told me: ‘Do as I say and you’ll become an important player’. I’m trying, but I know I can still improve.

“In short, with Sarri football is maths.”

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