David Luiz

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Luiz says ‘Sarri deserves this’ as uncertain future turns to present

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Maurizio Sarri‘s first season as Chelsea manager — and his first in the Premier League — is now officially complete, with a third-place league finish and the Europa League trophy.

[ MORE: Hazard: “I think it is goodbye, but you never know” ]

Wednesday’s triumph in the UEL final saw Sarri claim the first winner’s medal of his 30-year managerial career. It was a heartwarming sight to behold.

No one knows — not even Sarri himself — if there will be a second season for the Italian in west London. Not only did Sarri have a testy relationship with the club’s fans, but also with owner Roman Abramovich, leading to months of speculation that Sarri could be fired at any moment.

If the decision was to be left up to Sarri’s players, it sounds like he’d be the one roaming the sideline at Stamford Bridge come August. David Luiz, one of the most tenured players at the club (seven seasons over two different spells), was hugely complimentary of Sarri after the game and heaped loads of praise upon the 60-year-old — quotes from the BBC:

“We had some ups and downs but we have improved a lot and learned a lot this season. We finished well and won a trophy. It is my third title in Europe with Chelsea, they believe in my game. Sarri is a great guy, a great coach and he deserves this.

“The manager did amazing for this club. I don’t know about speculation, now is the time to talk about the title.”

[ MORE: Chelsea win Europa League after Arsenal capitulate (video) ]

With Eden Hazard seemingly already out the door, things could be looking drastically different at the start of next season. Chelsea won’t be the top job with a vacancy this summer, though, as whoever’s in charge — Sarri or otherwise — will be forced to operate under a two-window transfer ban.

LIVE – Europa League final: Arsenal v. Chelsea

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The first of two European finals consisting of Premier League clubs begins as Chelsea take on Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League final.

Both teams will have to battle some rustiness, with Chelsea and Arsenal both having not played (official) matches since May 12. Chelsea played the New England Revolution two weeks ago in a match for charity in the U.S.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Europa League final ]

Despite picking up a knee injury in training and being given a 50/50 chance to play, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has gone with N'Golo Kante in his midfield, alongside Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho. Olivier Giroud starts up top instead of Gonzalo Higuain, and Pedro takes the spot of Willian.

[READ: Europa League Final Preview: Arsenal v. Chelsea]

Interestingly, per Opta, Chelsea is the first team to not have a player from the club’s home nation in its starting lineup for a European final since Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan faced Bayern Munich in the 2010 Champions League final.

For Arsenal, manager Unai Emery has allowed Petr Cech to have a chance to go out a winner, starting him in the final game of the season. Emery also included Mesut Ozil in the squad, and he’ll likely combine with fellow attackers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in an imposing Arsenal attack. Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka start in midfield as well.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Christensen, David Luiz, Emerson; Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.
Bench: Caballero, Alonso, Cahill, Zappacosta, Barkley, William, Higuain, Cumming, Ampadu, McEachran, Gallagher.

Arsenal: Cech; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Bench: Leno, Lichsteiner, Mustafi, Jenkinson, Elneny, Guendouzi, Willock, Saka, Iliev, Iwoke, Nketiah, Welbeck

Drama at Chelsea: Sarri storms out of training

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Whether it was for the cameras or a real display of emotion, Maurizio Sarri’s message was clear to see; The Chelsea manager is not happy, just one day before the Europa League Final.

In video caught by BT Sport in England, Sarri was seen tossing his baseball hat to the ground and angrily walking off the pitch while Chelsea went through its final practice of the season. Sarri’s actions appeared to happen moments after Gonzalo Higuain and David Luiz had a heated conversation, which ended with Luiz also angrily leaving the field.

In a small sided game, Higuain stepped in quickly on Luiz when the latter had the ball, and Luiz likely was saying not to go into a tackle so hard the day before a final. Higuain didn’t seem to see it that way, leading to the disagreement.

With Kante the latest injury, rumors swirling that Eden Hazard and Sarri could be leaving this summer, it’s the latest sign of crisis at Chelsea. Should they overcome this latest incident, it would represent an incredible achievement for this season.

Chelsea players drop latest Hazard hint

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Chelsea are currently training in Boston ahead of their charity match against the New England Revolution on Wednesday, and plenty of their players have been asked to focus on one of the main questions in world soccer right now.

‘So, what is going on with Eden Hazard?’

That’s fair enough, as Chelsea’s next few seasons depends heavily on whether or not the Belgian superstar is going to sign a new deal (unlikely) or head to Real Madrid this summer (highly likely).

After their final game of the Premier League season Hazard said publicly that he has told Chelsea what he wants to do, and with just one year left on his current contract it is believed he wants to join Real Madrid this summer and play for Zinedine Zidane.

Speaking to our partners Sky Sports about Hazard’s future, Chelsea’s Brazilian center back David Luiz mentioned his experience and a cycle being finished…

“I want him to stay, of course, he’s a great player and I want to play with the best,” Luiz said. “But he has to decide. I decided for myself when I left Chelsea for PSG. It was not easy for me but it was a decision I took in the moment because my cycle was finished here. I was trying to feel a different challenge and everybody respected that. So just respect him also. He has to decide for himself. He is a great player and a great friend of mine. He came here as a little boy and now he is one of the best players in the world. I wish him all the best, I just hope he can stay with us.”

Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek echoed Luiz’s sentiments, but there is a growing sense that the west London club are prepping for Hazard’s impending departure.

“Everyone at the club wants him to stay; players, fans, staff and manager included,” Loftus-Cheek said. “He is such a talent and a player who has contributed to the club massively over the past seven years, the titles he has helped the club win. Everyone has enjoyed watching him play over the past seven years so I’m sure the club thanks him for what he’s done. If he does decide to move on, we wish him all the best.”

These comments are similar in nature and it seems as though Chelsea’s players are resigned to losing Hazard after their UEFA Europa League final against Arsenal in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 29.

What can Chelsea do in this situation? The best thing to do is get as much money as they can from Real for Hazard, but they are backed into a little bit of a corner.

With their appeal against a transfer ban until July 2020 upheld — Chelsea have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is their final chance to overturn the sanction for breaking rules over signing overseas players under the age of 18 — the Blues may decide to keep Hazard for next season despite his desire to leave.

Chelsea would likely want $140 million for him this summer, but will Real pay that? They know they can get Hazard for free in the summer of 2020, as they could also agree that deal from Jan. 1, 2020. This situation promises to be the transfer saga of the summer, and it is all about valuations. How much would it actually cost Chelsea to cash in on Hazard while he still has some value? And will Real draw this out as they always seem to do?

This is a tricky one. Do you keep a player who wants to leave against his will and then let him leave on a free next summer? Or do you sell him now and risk not qualifying for the Champions League next season? The latter could produce an even larger financial headache for Chelsea to solve.

Decisions. Decisions. The clock is ticking for Chelsea, Real Madrid and Hazard, but if the comments from his teammates are anything to go by, there is only one outcome here.

Hazard, Kepa, Giroud train with Chelsea at Harvard

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Chelsea has brought a strong squad to the Boston, Massachusetts area to take part in a friendly match to raise awareness and funds to fight antisemitism and hate around the world.

Chelsea is in the U.S. as part of a charity match titled the “Final Whistle on Hate,” which was set up by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and New England Revolution owner Robert Kraft. Both owners are Jewish and the game was set up shortly after the terrorist attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Proceeds from the match will be donated to 15 different anti-hate organizations, including the Anti Defamation League, Kick it Out, and the Holocaust Education Trust. Both Kraft and Abramovich have pledged to donate $1 million each.

Ahead of the match, Chelsea is spending time training at Harvard University’s facilities, meeting with fans both at training and at a Boston Chelsea fan club event on Monday evening.

Here’s Chelsea’s squad for the match against the New England Revolution, set for Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. Chelsea still has two weeks before heading to Baku, Azerbaijan for the Europa League final against London rival Arsenal.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, Willy Caballero, Rob Green, Marcos Alonso, Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Gonzalo Higuain, Eden Hazard, Pedro, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mateo Kovacic, Olivier Giroud, Davide Zappacosta, Willian, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Emerson Palmieri, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Ike Ugbo, Trevoh Chalobah, Conor Gallagher.