London - Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri gave the strongest hint yet that he
wishes to return to Italy and probably take the Juventus job by saying
he misses his friends and elderly parents.
The 60-year-old former Napoli coach has been strongly linked with the
Juventus job left vacant after Massimiliano Allegri resigned following a
highly successful five year spell in charge which included five league
titles, four Coppa Italia's and reaching two Champions League finals.
Sarri, who unusually for a top football coach came to the sport after
a successful career as a banker, has enjoyed a fine end to a
rollercoaster season with Chelsea.
He failed to win over a section of fans but still guided Chelsea to
the Europa League trophy - the 4-1 win over Arsenal bringing him his
first piece of silverware - third place in the Premier League and lost
to Manchester City on penalties in the League Cup final.
However, Sarri - whose departure will cost Juventus £5 million - told Vanity Fair magazine it has been a 'heavy year'.
And the ex-Napoli chief is aware that next year will be potentially
tougher with the likely departure of playmaker Eden Hazard to Real
Madrid and the club coming under a UEFA transfer ban and unable to find a
But the pull away from London is largely personal, explained Sarri
"For us Italians the call of home is strong," Sarri told Vanity Fair.
"I feel that something is missing. It has been a heavy year. I begin
to feel the weight of distant friends and elderly parents I rarely see.
"But at my age, I only make professional choices. I won't be able to work for 20 years. It's hard work, the bench."
'Treat it as a betrayal'
The manner of
Sarri's leaving will be far more cordial than that of his Italian
predecessor Antonio Conte, who pursued Chelsea over his sacking and was
awarded a reported £9 million at a Premier League tribunal last month.
Sarri, though, does not believe if he takes the Juventus job it will upset Napoli fans.
He enjoyed an impressive three year spell there from 2015-18 guiding
them twice to runners-up spot and the other season third place in Serie A
and earning himself the Serie A coach of the year in 2016/17.
"The Neapolitans know the love I feel for them. I chose to move abroad last year and not to go on an Italian team," said Sarri.
"The relationship will not change. Loyalty is giving 110% when you are there. What does it mean to be faithful?"
Italian international Jorginho, who Sarri brought with him from
Napoli, wants him to stay and is not so sure the Neapolitans will take
so kindly to him accepting the Juventus post.
"The Napoli fans still have him in their hearts; it's normal that
they could get angry," Jorginho said in comments published in the
"They could treat it as a betrayal; they're like that. We'll see what happens."
Names mentioned as potential successors to Sarri include former
Chelsea star Frank Lampard, who guided Derby County to the Championship
play-off final in his debut season as a manager, although some feel he
is still too raw for the challenge.