Maurizio Sarri admits regret over Chelsea exit

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Lazio boss Maurizio Sarri has admitted he regrets being so determined to leave his position as Chelsea manager back in 2019.

Sarri spent just one season at Stamford Bridge, winning the Europa League and finishing as runner-up in the Carabao Cup, but he struggled to win over the Chelsea fanbase and was often criticised for his preferred style of play.

Maurizio SarriMaurizio Sarri

Sarri led Chelsea to Europa League glory / Michael Regan/Getty Images

Juventus came calling for Sarri in 2019 and the boss made it very clear to those in charge at Chelsea that he wanted to be released from his contract – something he now admits was a huge mistake.

“At Chelsea, I made a sensational mistake, wanting to return to Italy at all costs,” Sarri told Sportitalia. [Club director] Marina Granovskaia tried to stop me from leaving Chelsea, but I had this desire to return to Italy.

“Chelsea are a great club. In the years since my departure they have signed many young players suitable for my style of playing. I was there in a peculiar year, in which [owner] Roman Abramovich could not enter England. We had a owner who was not present in the area.

“It was a difficult situation and all in the hands of Marina, who had 1,000 problems to solve. The football aspect was in the hands of us, the staff, because there wasn’t the economic power available. Then came Werner, Havertz, Mount, Ziyech – all suited to me and my way of playing.”

A common criticism of Sarri at Chelsea was his perceived favouritism towards Jorginho, who followed him from Napoli in 2018.

Jorginho became the focal point of a Chelsea side that many fans felt was too slow, uninspiring and generally quite boring, but the Italy midfielder has now blossomed into a fan favourite at the Bridge after some excellent performances under new boss Thomas Tuchel.

JorginhoJorginho

Jorginho has impressed under Tuchel / Visionhaus/Getty Images

There are even suggestions that Jorginho, who has been one of the stars of this summer’s Euro 2020, could be in the race for the Ballon d’Or this year, and Sarri claimed such an honour would be well-deserved.

“If he wins the European Championship, it is clear that Jorginho would become a contender,” Sarri said. “He is a refined player, one who is probably not understood by everyone.

“You have to set your eyes on him and only watch him in the game. He is so good and intelligent that he makes everything seem easy, you’ll rarely see him do anything spectacular. This is his greatness.”

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