Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri 'bored' by transfer market
Maurizio Sarri insisted that he is not interested in directing Chelsea's transfer policy but indicated that he would like to see both Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois remain at Stamford Bridge this summer.
Antonio Conte was sacked to pave the way for Sarri's appointment last week after months of tensions with the Chelsea board over recruitment, as well as clashes with senior players such as Diego Costa, David Luiz and Willian.
Sarri gained a reputation in Italy for not focusing the transfer market, and in front of watching board members Marina Granovskaia and Bruce Buck, he reiterated that, as head coach, he views his responsibility as to work with his players on the training pitch.
"I feel much more a pitch manager, a field manager than a general manager," he said via a translator. "I think I'm one of the few managers who is bored by the transfer market. I don't want to talk about it and I'm not that interested in it. Our task as managers is growing the players we have."
While Sarri is unlikely to make the kind of waves that Conte did with his pointed comments about Chelsea's shortcomings in the transfer market, he did reveal that he has discussed potential summer targets with the club, focusing on midfield.
Chelsea completed a £50 million deal to sign Italy international playmaker Jorginho at the weekend and are reportedly close to adding Aleksandr Golovin from CSKA Moscow.
"I spoke with the football club and said ideally I think that a pinch of quality is lacking in our central midfield for a certain kind of play, otherwise they are at a very high level," he said. "At the end of the transfers it will be up to me to understand what kind of football is suitable to the final squad.
"I cannot claim to come here and change 20 players. I must adapt to Chelsea and the players, and we will see at the end whether we must change something in my game because of the characteristics of the squad."
Chelsea have big decisions to make in the coming weeks about Hazard and Courtois, who both publicly courted interest from Real Madrid after Belgium's victory over England in the World Cup third-place playoff on Saturday.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Chelsea are focused on keeping Hazard despite his comments and Madrid's interest, and Sarri admitted that he would rather not lose any of the squad's key players before the Aug. 9 transfer deadline.
"Clearly, we would like to keep the strongest players," he said. "This is what any manager wants and any clubs wants. Then we will have to see how the transfer market will go over the next few days."
"I think he [Hazard] is one of the top two or three European players. I hope I will manage to improve him -- this is very difficult given the level he has reached."
Asked if he could improve Hazard in the spectacular way he managed with Dries Mertens at Napoli, Sarri said that it is not the same situation.
"With Mertens it was different -- Dries had also been an external striker and everyone thinks by necessity that he became a very high level player," he said. "Dries has improved with me but he started at a lower level. I hope Hazard will improve with me but it will be difficult."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.