Just two days after the Blues hoisted the Europa League crown, a report claims that Maurizio Sarri will be released from his Chelsea contract so he can leave Stamford Bridge and take the Juventus job.
The report comes from Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla, a correspondent for Italian television outlet SportItalia and independent journalist who is close to Sarri. According to Football Italia, Pedulla was the first on the scene when Sarri departed Napoli for Chelsea just one year ago and has a very good relationship with the current Blues boss.
Pedulla’s report states that Sarri’s agent Fali Ramadani has departed London with assurances from Chelsea brass that the Italian will be free to leave the club this summer without breaching his contract. Reportedly, Chelsea spoke with Ramadani nearly three weeks ago to begin discussions regarding Sarri’s departure independent of the outcome of the Europa League final.
Since, the report has been corroborated by notable Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, who additionally reports that Sarri himself met with Chelsea executive director Marina Granovskaia to reiterate his desire for a return to Italy.
Rumors have flown for weeks of Sarri’s departure this summer after a roller coaster season that saw the club finish third in the Premier League and win the Europa League title, while also reaching the League Cup final. Those outcomes on paper would have likely been acceptable for Sarri’s first year in charge had it not been for a few especially trying moments throughout the campaign that saw the Italian come under heavy fire.
The club lost three Premier League games in a six-match span through December, then dropped to Bournemouth, Arsenal, and Manchester City by a combined 12-0 sandwiched over a 5-0 win against Huddersfield Town, a perfect encapsulation of the range of emotions Chelsea felt this season. Sarri also made the controversial decision to move Player of the Year defensive midfielder N'Golo Kante from his natural position and use new signing Jorginho in that spot instead, to mixed success.
Sarri was often combative when faced with questions about his possible departure at press conferences in recent weeks, although it appears there was substance to those questions after all. Rumors have tabbed former Chelsea midfielder and current Derby County manager Frank Lampard as the favorite to take over should Sarri indeed leave, but nothing concrete has taken place in that regard publicly with Sarri’s future still in question.
With Massimilano Allegri leaving Juventus after securing the club’s 10th straight Serie A crown, Sarri appears to have seized the opportunity to return to his home country. The Juventus squad is in need of a serious overhaul, with a number of aging players weighing down the roster. 34-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo still seems to be at his goalscoring best, but Mario Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Giorgio Chiellini, and Leonardo Bonucci are all north of 30 years old, with Miralem Pjanic and Wojciech Szczesny nearly there. The club has Paulo Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi, Daniele Rugani, Rodrigo Betancur, and Emre Can all 25 years old or younger along with 19-year-old breakout star Moise Kean, but otherwise the youthful talent is severely lacking.
Continuing at Chelsea, however, would have come with its own baggage as well. The Blues are facing a FIFA-imposed transfer ban that is currently under appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Eden Hazard, the club’s star attacking player, is likely headed to Real Madrid this summer for a hefty fee, and pending the outcome of the CAS decision, the club could have lots of money to spend in the coming transfer fee. American winger Christian Pulisic has already officially joined the club after finishing out the season with Borussia Dortmund. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is also known for running through managers at a vicious pace, and Sarri may have wanted to work for someone with a less itchy trigger finger.
Alongside Sarri, former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has also returned home to Italy to take the Inter Milan job, with the AC Milan managerial position still open after the departure of Gennaro Gattuso.