Italian Serie A champions Juventus appointed Maurizio Sarri as their new coach, hoping that the Chelsea manager’s ambitious possession-based game will extend their dominance of Italian football and bring them European silverware.
British media reported Juventus agreed a compensation fee with Chelsea in excess of STG5 million ($A9.2 million) for Sarri, who joins the Italian giants on a three-year contract.
Sarri was at Chelsea for just one season, where he won the Europa League — the first major trophy of his career — and led them to a third-placed finish in the Premier League.
On paper it was a commendable feat, but it was a rocky campaign for the former Napoli boss whose team never seemed to fully adapt to his so-called “Sarri-ball” system.
“In talks we had following the Europa League final, Maurizio made it clear how strongly he desired to return to his native country, explaining that his reasons for wanting to return to work in Italy were significant,” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said in a statement.
“He also believed it important to be nearer his family, and for the well-being of his elderly parents he felt he needed to live closer to them at this point.”
The chain-smoking 60-year-old coach replaced the phlegmatic Massimiliano Allegri who won five successive Serie A titles in as many seasons in charge — extending Juve’s run to eight in a row — plus the Coppa Italia four times. He also led them to two Champions League finals.
The move is likely to infuriate supporters at Napoli, where Sarri spent three seasons and turned them into the team most likely to threaten Juve’s dominance.
Napoli finished as runners-up twice and third place once under Sarri’s leadership and achieved a club record 91 points in the 2017-18 when they came agonisingly close to snatching the title — even beating Juve 1-0 in Turin towards the end of the season.
Juventus seemed to lack a recognisable playing style under Allegri, a pragmatic coach who last season fielded 38 different lineups in 38 league matches.
That will not be the case under Sarri, who turned Napoli into the most eye-catching Serie A side with their complex passing movements.
His style, however, makes huge demands of the players and Sarri was also criticised at Napoli over his failure to rest players, something which could prove a problem at Juventus who have more strength-in-depth and will be battling on two fronts.
He will also have to find a way of incorporating Cristiano Ronaldo into his team. The 34-year-old, with two years of his Juventus contract still to run, is still lethal in small bursts but not able to maintain such a high tempo over 90 minutes.
A former bank employee, Sarri never played football professionally and made his Serie A coaching debut at the age of 55 with Empoli after winning promotion with them in 2014.
Chelsea’s 13 managers since Roman Abramovich took over EPL club in 2003:
Claudio Ranieri – Sept 2000-May 2004
The Italian was at the helm when Abramovich arrived at Stamford Bridge. After heavy spending he led Chelsea to a second-placed finish in the Premier League and the Champions League semi-finals but faced persistent speculation about his job and was sacked at the end of the season.
Jose Mourinho – June 2004-Sept 2007
The Portuguese established himself as a Chelsea hero, winning back-to-back league titles in his first two seasons, one FA Cup and two League Cups. His departure only a month into his fourth season by ‘mutual consent’ was unexpected.
Avram Grant – Sept 2007-May 2008
A friend of Abramovich, Israeli Grant had been appointed technical director in the summer of 2007. He was controversially made manager after Mourinho’s departure and lasted only one season, which saw Chelsea finish second and lose in the Champions League final to Manchester United. He had the best win percentage of any of Abramovich’s managers.
Luiz Felipe Scolari – July 2008-Feb 2009
Brazilian Scolari was the first World Cup-winning coach to manage in the Premier League but a poor run of form saw him sacked before the end of his first season.
Guus Hiddink – Feb 2009-May 2009
Hiddink was appointed until the end of the season and combined his duties with his post as Russia manager. He lost only one match and won the FA Cup but could not be persuaded to stay.
Carlo Ancelotti – July 2009-May 2011
The Italian enjoyed a dream first season, leading Chelsea to a first ever league and FA Cup double, with his side becoming the first to score more than 100 Premier League goals in one campaign. He was sacked hours after finishing second in his second campaign.
Andre Villas-Boas – June 2011-March 2012
Hailed as the new Mourinho, Villas-Boas’ tenure at Stamford Bridge was not a happy one. After talk of a player revolt, he was sacked with Chelsea outside the Champions League places.
Roberto Di Matteo – March 2012-Nov 2012
The former Chelsea midfielder had been Villas-Boas’ assistant and was made interim manager until the end of the season. FA Cup and Champions League wins earned him a permanent contract but the following season did not go nearly as well and he was sacked.
Rafael Benitez – Nov 2012-May 2013
Benitez was the club’s latest interim manager, and unpopular with Chelsea fans because of his Liverpool past. The Spaniard won the Europa League and led the team to a third-place finish in the league.
Jose Mourinho – June 2013-Dec 2015
‘The Special One’ returned to win a third Premier League title in 2014-15 as well as the League Cup but, after signing a new contract, a dismal start to the following season saw him leave the club for a second time.
Guus Hiddink – Dec 2015-May 2016
Hiddink’s second caretaker spell could not match the impact of his first but he did manage to stabilise the club.
Antonio Conte – July 2016-Jul 2018
The Italian enjoyed a terrific debut season, with Chelsea dominating the Premier League and winning the title by seven points, but entered his second under a cloud after appearing to criticise the club’s transfer policy. The Blues finished fifth in the Premier League, missing out on a Champions League place, and even an FA Cup win could not save Conte.
Maurizio Sarri – July 2018-June 2019
The club won Sarri’s first five league games at the helm and were unbeaten in 12, but a relative dip early in the new year put their Champions League qualification in doubt and saw Sarri’s tactics questioned. They recovered to finish third, reached the League Cup final and won the Europa League but still find themselves seeking a new manager.