Sarri unveiled as Juventus, hails Ronaldo, slams Hazard




Vice chairman Pavel Nedved (left) and sporting director Fabio Patrici (right) showed Sarri around the Juventus training centre after he landed in Turin on Wednesday

Maurizio Sarri fired a parting shot at Eden Hazard and praised Cristiano Ronaldo during his unveiling as the new Juventus manager. 

He faced the media and addressed supporters for the first time on Thursday morning in a press conference. 

The 60-year-old, kitted out in a sharp club suit, endeared himself to fans in Turin but risked further ire of the Chelsea faithful.

Sarri made a fascinating dig at former Chelsea winger Eden Hazard, who has since joined Real Madrid. 

‘We had to accommodate Hazard’s characteristics, as he could change the game, but also his presence caused issues in defending that we had to work on,’ he admitted.

And he went on to add that none of the Chelsea players are of the quality of Cristiano Ronaldo, who will represent a step up in class.

‘I coached some very strong players, but training him will be yet another step forward,’ he added. ‘I’d like to help him break some new records.’ 

Sarri fielded questions from a packed out press conference and admitted to having his head turned as soon as the Italian giants came calling, with one factor being the chance to live closer to his elderly parents.

‘The feeling when Juve called me? Strong’, he said. ‘I’ve never seen a club so determined to get a coach before. 

‘The Premier League was a great experience, but in the latter half (of the season), I felt professional and personal needs to return to Italy.’ 

Sarri also addressed the changes in style between Napoli and Chelsea, claiming the players at his disposal in London possessed different talents. 

‘What changes are the characteristics of the players,’ he said. Napoli had team players, who were totally at the disposal of the team and moved the ball at a decisively quicker pace.

‘Chelsea are made up of probably technically superior players, but with different individual characteristics.

‘They have wingers who want the ball at their feet and like to go one-on-one. It leads to a less fluid style of football, because Napoli had 11 who could play one-touch football, Chelsea had seven or eight who could do that and the others were individuals who could make the difference going by themselves.

‘We were fairly unbeatable in the last two-three months. You’d be insane to think you could change the characteristics of the players at your disposal. I’d be in the amateur leagues at that point.

‘You are dealing with players at this level who are already champions. The philosophy of football remains largely the same, but you must have the mental elasticity to adapt to the players and figure out how to win games.’

When asked about the discontent among Napoli fans, many of whom feel betrayed by their former boss, Sarri admitted the opportunity was too good to turn down.    

‘Juve are the best Italian club right now and offered me a chance to return to Italy. It’s the crowning achievement of a long career, that for 80 per cent of it was extremely tough.

‘I think I respected everyone. And in the last act I had to respect my profession and my professionalism.

‘I expect to get up in the morning and study how to win games.’ 

The former Chelsea manager lasted just one season at Stamford Bridge, achieving a third place finish and steering the side to Europa League glory but failing to win over the fanbase who remained skeptical of his methods and often baffled by his substitutions and in-game management.

Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici offered his thanks to the Blues for the swift action and straightforward discussions.

‘The negotiation did not last beyond the month. We had clear ideas from the beginning,’ he revealed. 

‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chelsea. Between big clubs you have to respect time and formality.’ 

There was a moment of light relief as Sarri, famed for his casual tracksuit and cigarette in-hand look on the touchline, was asked if would smarten up on the touchline as Juventus manager. 

‘Suit on the pitch? I don’t know’, he said. ‘I’m going to talk to the club. We have not talked about this. The important thing is that at this age they don’t send me naked.’

Chelsea are expected to announce Frank Lampard as Sarri’s successor imminently and both clubs are beginning a new era.  

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