Maurizio Sarri has claimed he could not play his preferred system at Chelsea as he had to accommodate Eden Hazard.

Belgium international Hazard starred for Chelsea last season, scoring 21 goals and providing 17 assists across all competitions.

His form earned him a move to Real Madrid, while Sarri - who won the Europa League and led Chelsea to a third-place finish in the Premier League - left for Juventus.

Sarri's first and only season at Stamford Bridge looked to have been a success, but issues over his playing style proved a sticking point throughout his tenure.

And Sarri believes that having to find a way to play Hazard in his preferred role meant he could not deploy the free-flowing, 4-3-3 system that had drawn plaudits during his time at Napoli, and also caused problems in defence.

"In recent years, I've had 4-3-3, but the 4-3-3 at Chelsea was very different to the one at Napoli," Sarri told a news conference.

"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."

One player that Sarri brought to Chelsea last season was Gonzalo Higuain, who joined on loan from Juve in January.

Higuain was a crucial player in Sarri's Napoli side before he left for Juve in 2016, and Sarri is looking forward to another reunion with the 31-year-old, should the Argentine wish to remain in Turin.

"You know I love [Higuain] a lot. I have always been very supportive. It depends on him," Sarri said.

"In terms of the other players at Juventus, I have to be very modest because here there are staff who have been dealing with them for many different years.

"I think it's absolutely fair that I listen to them, then we'll make a decision together. The staff know the players better than me - maybe Higuain is the only one I know slightly better - so it will be up to me to listen to them and adapt."

Maurizio Sarri has suggested Chelsea's players did not have the characteristics to fully adapt to his style of play, but the new Juventus coach says he will not change despite scepticism over his philosophy.

Sarri left Chelsea to join Juventus on Sunday, securing a return to Serie A - where he previously enjoyed three successful seasons at Napoli - after just one campaign at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea finished third and won the Europa League during Sarri's stint in charge, though the Italian never looked to have settled in English football.

And, having now replaced Massimiliano Allegri at Juve, Sarri has acknowledged it was difficult to imprint his style on Chelsea's players without adapting his methods.

However, the 60-year-old insisted that sticking by his philosophy is the only way he knows how to achieve success.

"I have always arrived in one club surrounded by scepticism," Sarri told a news conference.

"I went to Empoli from Serie C and everybody was sceptical - Napoli from Empoli - and they were all sceptical. At Chelsea from Napoli, all sceptical. 

"Players' characteristics change from club to club. Napoli was composed of functional players, playing for the team from a psychological viewpoint, they moved the ball very quickly. 

"Chelsea, on the other hand, are made of better players but with different characteristics. Chelsea had wingers who needed the one-on-one, so my style was less smooth but as threatening as before. 

"Eventually we had become very tough to be beat. To repeat the same training methods with different players would be foolish, it would mean to change the players' characteristics. It is something for amateurs. 

"Players have different styles but what remains the same is the ideology that has to be morphed on important and mature players. This makes you win."

Juventus "love" Paul Pogba and have made a move for Adrien Rabiot, the Serie A club's sporting director Fabio Paratici has revealed.

Pogba has been heavily linked with a return to his former club, though Real Madrid are also reportedly interested in signing the Manchester United midfielder.

Rabiot, meanwhile, is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain, though he has not played a senior match in 2019 following his refusal to sign a new deal with the Ligue 1 champions.

And Paratici spoke of Juve's admiration for both players, confirming Juve had already opened talks with Rabiot.

"They are two great players," Paratici told a news conference held for Maurizio Sarri's official presentation as Juve coach.

"Pogba is a Manchester United player. We love him, we made him grow up but he is a Manchester United player.

"We are making an attempt for Rabiot, as with all the players we have in mind. We discussed them with Sarri and soon we will take a decision."

Paratici also lauded Sarri, insisting the former Napoli boss is the ideal candidate to build on the success of Massimiliano Allegri's tenure.

"His style of play was not crucial in our reason to change our coach. We have chosen Maurizio because we believe he's the best coach for Juve in this moment - as, five years ago, was Allegri and, eight years ago, was [Antonio] Conte," he added.

"These are different types of coaches with different characteristics - they could even be opposites, working with very different styles.

"He has demonstrated his great skills in Italy and the Premier League and at European level as well. We believe he's the best option for Juve."

Sarri, meanwhile, refused to be drawn on any specific targets he wishes to sign, claiming Juve's dealings in the transfer market will be in Paratici's hands.

"We'll have to see when we have clear ideas to have a better understanding of what our playing style could be," Sarri said. 

"I don't really like making requests on specific names but definitely on the characteristics of the players. I'll be talking about these things with Fabio.

"I want to convey a message in terms of the characteristics of the players but not the names of the players. He knows many more players than me.

"My task is to prepare for the matches, so I don't have so much time to travel around the world to see all the players. But Fabio's skill and confidence is much higher than mine."

Maurizio Sarri considers his arrival at Juventus the "crowning moment" of his coaching career and insists he has not disrespected Napoli by taking the job.

Former Napoli boss Sarri has been appointed at Serie A champions Juve, leaving Chelsea after just one year in the Premier League to replace Massimiliano Allegri.

The 60-year-old, a boyhood fan of the Partenopei, had challenged the Bianconeri for the title in 2017-18 and his subsequent move to Turin has been met with outrage by some at Stadio San Paolo.

But Sarri is delighted to have moved to Italy's leading club in the modern era.

"I had a wonderful experience in the Premier League but, for personal as well as professional reasons, I felt the need to come back to Italy," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"This opportunity has been given by Juventus, the most important club in Italy at the moment, and I believe it's the crowning moment of a very long career that, in 80 per cent of cases, has been quite difficult.

"I think I have respected everyone. I had to respect my professionalism, too, and take the direction that I needed."

Sarri was a rival of Juventus previously and explained why that history will have no influence on his ability to do the job.

"I spent three years where, waking up, my very first thought was to beat Juventus," said Sarri, who insisted he remains on good terms with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis despite not speaking to him since joining Juve.

"Juventus were winning a lot - we were the most credible alternative. My professional duty was to create the necessary conditions in order to defeat Juventus.

"I gave 110 per cent, but unfortunately we didn't succeed. I would do it again obviously. This is a sporting conflict. When it is over, of course, it is over. My professionalism means I will give my best for this club right now.

"In the past, maybe I used the wrong words or the wrong methods. But somehow that can be appreciated. If I have an opponent, I might hate this opponent but, ultimately, I will also appreciate them for doing their best in order to win."

Maurizio Sarri hopes he can help Cristiano Ronaldo make even more history at Juventus and is targeting Serie A's single-season goalscoring record.

Former Napoli and Chelsea boss Sarri has been appointed as Juve's new head coach following Massimiliano Allegri's departure after the 2018-19 season, during which the club won an eighth straight league title.

Ronaldo, who arrived from Real Madrid in a €112million deal last year, played his part with 21 Serie A goals but trailed Capocannoniere Fabio Quagliarella's 26.

But Sarri was in charge of Napoli when Gonzalo Higuain netted a record-breaking 36 times in the 2015-16 Serie A season and he wants to see Ronaldo do likewise.

"It is an upgrade from this point of view [in terms of players]," he said in a news conference.

"In the past years, I have found myself managing good players, then better players at Chelsea, but here it is another step forward. [Ronaldo is] at the top of the world, for sure.

"It is emotional, he has almost all the records you can set in world football and I would like to help him set and beat some other records. I hope I can influence him from this point of view.

"For example, I would like to have the record of goals in Serie A. I already had this record and I would like to help him have another one."

Star forward Paulo Dybala struggled to find his best form playing alongside Ronaldo last term and has been linked with a move away, but Sarri is confident he can find effective roles for the pair.

"When players have the characteristics of Dybala and Cristiano, I believe they can play any role," he said.

"What might change is the interpretation of the role, which will alter their characteristics. The team will have to adapt, which is fundamental to get results."

The signing of Ronaldo was seen as a key step towards Juve winning the Champions League for the first time since 1995-96, and Sarri acknowledges that must be a target after they fell in the quarter-finals this year.

"I expect to wake up in the morning and have a winning mentality," he said. "It's something that is not guaranteed to happen. You cannot take anything for granted.

"In Italy, Juventus must bear the burden of being favourites. We have the obligation to do well.

"It is quite clear that Juventus will have to start with the target of winning the Champions League - but with the awareness that, at European level, there are another eight or nine clubs who are as strong.

"Unfortunately, different results have to be accepted. But we have to start at this level.

"We have this dream, this target, that we want to pursue with great determination, with the awareness that, in order to be achieved, it has a very high level of difficulty."

Bologna have exercised their option to permanently sign Juventus attacker Riccardo Orsolini in a €15million deal.

Orsolini, who joined Juve from Ascoli in January 2017, spent 18 months on loan at Bologna, helping them to a 10th-place finish in Serie A under Sinisa Mihajlovic last season.

The Italy Under-21 international scored eight goals and provided five assists in 35 league appearances in 2018-19.

Orsolini had previously seen a temporary move to Atalanta cut short after failing to break into the first team.

Douglas Costa does not know where Neymar will be next season but trusts his Brazil team-mate will make the right call on his future.

Neymar became the world's most expensive player when he joined Paris Saint-Germain in a €222million deal in 2017, but he has not been able to improve the Ligue 1 club's fortunes in the Champions League.

The former Barcelona forward is now reportedly available, with the Catalan giants and Real Madrid said to be interested in taking him back to Spain.

Juventus winger Costa, who went to the 2018 World Cup with Brazil but missed out on a place in the squad for this year's Copa America, believes Neymar will make the right decision.

"I have no idea [where Neymar will go], I guess nobody knows - only Neymar," Costa said.

"That's a very personal decision but he will choose the best for his career."

One rumoured offer for Neymar could see Philippe Coutinho go in the other direction and join PSG, having failed to impress at Barca since his January 2018 move.

Costa said of the midfielder: "He is a fantastic player. We know that he was very important in Liverpool. In Barcelona, he's still searching for his space. But he is phenomenal."

Former Bayern Munich man Costa has a new coach at Juve in Maurizio Sarri and is looking forward to the 2019-20 season under the ex-Chelsea boss.

"I don't know [Sarri] personally," he said. "I could see his work when he was at Napoli and I believe he's a great coach because he had an amazing season in my first year in Italy.

"I think we all have great things we can develop with Sarri."

Serie A promises to be fascinating next season, with four of the biggest clubs in the league under new leadership.

Champions Juventus surprisingly parted company with Massimiliano Allegri and replaced him with Maurizio Sarri despite winning the title yet again, although runners-up Napoli have stuck with Carlo Ancelotti.

Inter and AC Milan both appointed new head coaches, with Antonio Conte and Marco Giampaolo taking charge respectively, while Paulo Fonseca is the new man in the Roma dugout.

But what do the four men need to do to make a success of their new jobs? Omnisport takes a look.

 

Maurizio Sarri (Juventus)

Perhaps the most daunting task awaits Sarri next season, as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of Allegri, who won five consecutive Scudetti. Indeed, the last campaign in which the Bianconeri did not win the title was 2010-11, and if Sarri cannot sustain their dominance his spell in Turin could be short-lived.

What's more, he will be tasked with turning an Allegri team that, for all its success, was criticised for playing dour, defensive football into the kind of free-flowing, passing side Sarri created at Napoli. He was unable to make that transformation happen during a tumultuous year at Chelsea, but perhaps a return to Serie A will rekindle his particular brand of magic.


Paulo Fonseca (Roma)

Roma narrowly missed out on a place in next season's Champions League, leaving new coach Fonseca in charge of a club in need of a morale-boosting return to Serie A's top four.

The Giallorossi will still be expected to progress in the Europa League and Fonseca arrives in Rome with a strong track record in continental competition, having guided Shakhtar Donetsk to the last 16 of the Champions League in 2017-18. However, he will need to get more out of a talented group of players and keep on top of what Francesco Totti claimed has become a toxic environment at the Stadio Olimpico.

 

Paulo Fonseca: “I am excited and motivated by the task ahead of us. I cannot wait to move to Rome, meet our fans and get started.

"Together, I believe we can create something special.” #ASRoma pic.twitter.com/PnSAeTxcYN

— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) June 11, 2019 Antonio Conte (Inter)

Inter's return to the Champions League did not go according to plan in 2018-19, and despite having their fate in their own hands, Luciano Spalletti's side dropped out in the group stage and lost to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League round of 16. Spalletti did secure a second successive top-four finish, though, meaning Conte's primary target will be to better the performance in Europe's elite competition, while also closing the gap on Napoli – if not Juventus quite yet – who finished 10 points above the Nerazzurri.

Mauro Icardi is the elephant in the room and getting the best out of the striker who was stripped of the captaincy as a dispute over a new contract rumbled on in the second half of last season will also be top of Conte's to-do list, should the Argentine remain at San Siro. If not, then it could well be Romelu Lukaku who leads Inter's line next term.


Marco Giampaolo (AC Milan)

Giampaolo's task will be, on the face of it, a simple one – gain qualification for the Champions League. Gennaro Gattuso's failure to do just that ultimately cost the Milan icon his job at San Siro. It was a frustrating campaign for Milan and having led Sampdoria to a ninth-place finish last season, Giampaolo must now settle on a system that can see the Rossoneri challenge for the top four.

Milan's squad does not have the quality it once did but Giampaolo has a natural goalscorer at his disposal in Krzysztof Piatek. However, his first port of call should be to solidify a defence that was left exposed under Gattuso, with Gianluigi Donnarumma having to come to their rescue far too often.

The race is heating up for Neymar.

With Paris Saint-Germain reportedly willing to part with the world's most expensive player, two LaLiga giants are set to go head-to-head.

Will Neymar end up at former club Barcelona or bitter Spanish rivals Real Madrid?

 

TOP STORY – BARCA AND MADRID FIGHT FOR NEYMAR

A return to Barcelona and a blockbuster transfer to Real Madrid both appear on the cards for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Madrid are reportedly ready to pay €130million for Neymar in a deal which would also include either James Rodriguez or Gareth Bale.

But Globo Esporte says Neymar – who left Barca for PSG in a €222m transfer in 2017 – is still on track for a Camp Nou comeback.

It comes after Le Parisien claims PSG want €300m to part with the injured Brazil forward.

 

ROUND-UP

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is set to become the world's most expensive full-back as Manchester United negotiate a £55million deal with Crystal Palace, according to the Daily Record. However, talks between the two Premier League sides have dragged on and the Red Devils have identified alternatives, with Sky Sport Italia claiming Napoli's Elseid Hysaj is a target.

- According to Marca, Atletico Madrid will announce the signing of Benfica sensation Joao Felix on Thursday. The 19-year-old has already undergone a medical and signed his contract ahead of the €120m move.

Frank Lampard has notified his Derby County squad that he will replace Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea if the right offer arrives, the Mirror reports. Former Chelsea star Lampard is expected to move back to London following Sarri's switch to Juve.

Paris Saint-Germain outcast Adrien Rabiot is on the verge of signing for Serie A champions Juventus, according to Sportitalia. The French midfielder and free agent has reportedly penned a five-year contract worth €7m plus bonuses, and a €10m signing-on fee.

- According to the Daily Mail, Inter and Atletico Madrid are both eyeing a move for Southampton full-back Ryan Bertrand.

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has agreed a deal worth £180,000 per week to join Inter, says The Sun. With Lukaku heading for the exit, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is reportedly eyeing Bournemouth's David Brooks.

Andre Gomes is on the verge of joining Everton permanently from LaLiga champions Barcelona. Gomes enjoyed a successful loan spell in 2018-19 and a £22m fee has "verbally been agreed", according to the Telegraph.

Jorginho's previous spell at Napoli will not stop him from reuniting with Maurizio Sarri at Serie A rivals Juventus, according to the Chelsea midfielder's agent.

New Juventus head coach Sarri took Jorginho to Chelsea from Napoli last season and has been tipped to sign him again ahead of his first campaign back in Italy's top flight.

The 27-year-old failed to truly adapt to Premier League football following his reported £50million switch, leading to suggestions that he could be heading for a swift Serie A return after just 11 months at Stamford Bridge.

And Jorginho's representative Joao Santos said, while the player is not actively seeking a move, a transfer cannot be ruled out.

"Chelsea have a four-year contract with the lad," Santos told Tuttomercatoweb. "We'll wait a few days to figure out whether there is any truth in this interest mentioned in the papers.

"His past at Napoli won’t be an issue, because Jorginho is a professional. Right now, Jorginho is happy at Chelsea. 

"He found a great atmosphere and we can't really say that he'd like to go elsewhere, but anything can happen in the transfer market. We'll wait and see..."

Sarri finished as a runner-up to Juventus in 2017-18 before joining Chelsea, where he capped his one and only season at the club by winning the Europa League with victory over Arsenal in last month's final.

Santos expects the incoming Juve boss, who will be officially unveiled on Thursday, to further improve the Italian champions with his famed style of play.

"Sarri already showed at Napoli and Chelsea that he is a top-level coach," he said. "At a club like Juve, who have been so well-organised for years, he can only improve and continue to win.

"I've been tracking Sarri for five years and his style of football is very entertaining. Juventus will change, because before they would win without being convincing. Now they'll convince too."

Inter have announced the signing of Matteo Politano from Sassuolo, the club taking up a purchase option after his loan at San Siro.

Politano made 36 Serie A appearances for the Nerazzurri last term, scoring five league goals as they finished fourth in the table.

Inter are reported to have paid €20million to Sassuolo to sign the 25-year-old winger on a permanent basis.

The Italy international will now be part of Antonio Conte's squad after the former Chelsea boss succeeded Luciano Spalletti as head coach.

Inter also announced on Wednesday the signing of Eddie Salcedo from Genoa on a permanent basis after he too spent last season on loan.

AC Milan have finalised the appointment of Marco Giampaolo as head coach on an initial two-year contract.

Giampaolo, 51, put pen to paper after leaving fellow Serie A side Sampdoria on Saturday, with Milan holding the option to extend his contract by a further season.

The Swiss-born Italian guided Sampdoria to ninth in the last of his three seasons in charge and emerged as the leading option for Milan following Simone Inzaghi's decision to sign a new deal at Lazio.

Giampaolo replaces Gennaro Gattuso, who stood down in the wake of Milan's failure to secure Champions League qualification.

Having spent time in charge of Cagliari, Brescia and Empoli among others, Giampaolo arrives at San Siro with plenty of experience and forms part of a new-look football department.

Club icon Paolo Maldini and ex-Croatia international Zvonimir Boban were named as the Rossoneri's new technical director and chief football officer, respectively, on Friday.

Milan will hope the changes bring stability after churning through six full-time head coaches since Massimiliano Allegri's departure in 2014.

AC Milan have finalised the appointment of Marco Giampaolo as head coach on an initial two-year contract.

 

Barcelona have confirmed they will play Napoli in the first LaLiga Serie A Cup during pre-season this year.

LaLiga champions Barca will take on the Partonepei in a two-legged clash in the United States.

The first game will be played at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium on August 7, with the second clash held at the Michigan Stadium three days later.

"Visiting the United States and being able to get closer to our fans is always a great thing for Barca," said club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

"On top of that, we will also have the chance to play at two iconic stadiums: at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, where in 2017 we played the LaLiga Clasico, and at Michigan Stadium, the largest in the United States.

"While there, we hope to put on a show and entertain our American fans with our style of play."

Barca previously confirmed they will play Chelsea and Vissel Kobe – whom former Blaugrana players Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper now represent – during a Japan tour in late July.

The inaugural competition will see Napoli make a long-awaited return to the States.

"We could not be happier to be playing against Barcelona in the United States," said Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis.

"Our club has not visited the country for thirty years and the chance to go back to the American market for these two games and against an opponent like Barca is extraordinary for us."

James Rodriguez has been identified as a target by Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti and the club plan to contact his agent to discuss a move, according to chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis.

The Colombia star's future is up in the air as his two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich looks set to end without the German club making the move permanent, while he does not appear to be counted on by those at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Liverpool, Manchester United and Juventus have all been linked with a swoop for James, but it seems Napoli will be the first to launch a bid after Ancelotti brought up the possibility of bringing the 27-year-old to Serie A.

"We have always said that we need two full-backs and one striker," De Laurentiis told Radio Kiss Kiss.

"James Rodriguez fits the image of what Carlo Ancelotti wants.

"I don't know how much he 100 per cent answers our needs, but we certainly can't put his skill in doubt. At a certain point one must then empower his coach.

"If he [Ancelotti] wants him for Napoli, it is because he knows how useful he [James] can be, even if he is very expensive. I said, 'let's go ahead'."

James, who is on international duty at the Copa America, said on Sunday that he is unsure where his future lies, but De Laurentiis confirmed he will be in touch with the player's agent, Jorge Mendes, to open discussions.

PSV winger Hirving Lozano is being considered as an alternative if a move for James falls through, though De Laurentiis made it clear the club cannot afford to buy both players.

"If I don't reach an agreement with Jorge Mendes, I'll talk to Mino Raiola about Hirving Lozano," De Laurentiis added. "We can't take them both.

"We already have a series of players we can't ignore. We have to sell first and then we can buy.

"Mendes is perhaps the best agent in the world today. He is also a friend. I think James will be very expensive, but if we have to make a sacrifice, we do it. For one player, you can do it."

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