Chelsea confirm Maurizio Sarri’s exit and will ask for Frank Lampard talks

David Hytner on 16 June 2019

Chelsea are primed to make an approach to Derby for Frank Lampard, after they confirmed they had allowed Maurizio Sarri to join Juventus after one season at the club.

The Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said: “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.

“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. Maurizio leaves Chelsea with thanks from us all for the work he and his assistants did.”

Practicality has driven Chelsea towards Lampard, who has legendary status in the eyes of their fans as the club’s record goalscorer with 211 from 649 appearances over 13 years. They considered a move for Massimiliano Allegri only for the Italian to announce he would take a year out after leaving Juventus, and another possibility, Erik ten Hag, is expected to stay at Ajax.

Lampard has come to tick a lot of boxes, not least the one about a willingness to promote academy products. He worked productively at Derby last season with Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, who were on loan from Stamford Bridge, and it is likely the incoming Chelsea manager will also have to embrace talents such as Reece James and Tammy Abraham – together with Callum Hudson-Odoi when he recovers from achilles surgery – as the club faces a Fifa transfer ban. It was handed out in February for breaches of the rules regarding the registration of under-18 foreign players.

Lampard’s lack of experience is well-documented – last season was his first as a manager – and, in other circumstances, the Chelsea hierarchy might have preferred to wait for him. Yet they know how great his impact has been at Derby, particularly on the players, who admire his professionalism and enjoy working for him. He has transformed Derby’s style and substantially reduced the average age of the team.

It would be a blow for Derby to lose Lampard and they have made moves since their defeat by Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final to improve his contract. Equally, they know how difficult it would be for him to turn down Chelsea. Derby would be due around £4m in compensation for the remaining two years on Lampard’s deal.

Lampard would want to bring his assistant, Jody Morris, to Stamford Bridge – Morris is a former Chelsea player and under-18s coach – and another club favourite, Petr Cech, is to be confirmed as the sporting director, a position that has needed to be filled since Michael Emenalo’s departure.

Chelsea have sold Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for an initial £88.5m and they appear ready to begin serving their transfer ban this summer. Although they have appealed against the two-window sanction at the court of arbitration for sport, they have not asked for the punishment to be frozen pending the ruling.

One of the requirements for a freeze is that a club shows urgency in demanding it – basically, when they take their case to Cas. Chelsea have not done so and, consequently, if they were to ask for one now, it would have less chance of being granted. Cas will not hear Chelsea’s case until after 8 August, when the transfer window closes for Premier League clubs.

Chelsea said they had terminated Sarri’s contract with two years to run at the Italian’s request and at the same time Juventus announced his arrival on a three-year deal.

Sarri won the Europa League and finished third in the Premier League but his relationship with a vocal section of the Chelsea support broke down over concerns about the lack of drive in his team’s style. He made it clear he wanted to return to Italy, partly for family reasons, and Juventus have agreed a compensation package with Chelsea that could be worth more than £5m.

Sarri’s assistant Gianfranco Zola will also leave Chelsea. It is believed that Zola wants his next move to be into a manager’s position, rather than another assistant’s role.

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