Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri does not believe he can guarantee regular gametime for Ruben Loftus-Cheek despite his stunning performance against BATE Borisov in the Europa League. Loftus-Cheek has barely featured for the Blues since the start of the current campaign but he managed to excel during the midweek European game against BATE where he came up with his maiden hat-trick in a comfortable 3-1 win.
Speaking in a press conference, Sarri acknowledged that Loftus-Cheek has managed to adapt to his style of play but that may not assure him of regular gametime, he said: “We have four midfielders and three of them have the same characteristics. They are offensive midfielders, only one has other characteristics – [N’Golo] Kante is a defensive midfielder. So it is very difficult to put in the starting XI two midfielders with the same characteristics. We have a tactical problem with the midfielders. At the beginning of the season he [Loftus-Cheek] was a very good player and now he is a good player that is more suited to my style of football.”
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has indicated that Ruben Loftus-Cheek was only rested for the recent Premier League game versus Southampton. The England international made his maiden start for the Blues during the midweek Europa League triumph over MOL Vidi but this was however not deemed sufficient enough for him to feature against the Saints.
Speaking after the 3-0 away win over Southampton, Sarri indicated that the midfielder may not be prepared yet to secure a regular role and he would prefer to see more of him in training, he said: “No, not at the moment. After 70 minutes in the last match, for the first time this season, I preferred for him to have training.”
The representative of Jorginho has admitted that Manchester City were initially the favourites to sign the Italian from Napoli before Chelsea pounced on his signature. The Italy international was deemed to have already finalised personal terms with the Citizens but the deal could not go through amid the club’s failure to meet Napoli’s asking price.
Speaking to Radio Kiss Kiss, agent Joao Santos confirmed that personal terms were agreed with the Premier League holders but they were still far off from matching the price tag on the midfielder’s head. As such, the Blues managed to hijack the move at an advanced stage with Jorginho getting the opportunity to reunite with ex-Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri in London.
Italy international Davide Zappacosta has admitted that he could pursue a fresh challenge away from Stamford Bridge during the New Year. The versatile full-back had attracted plenty of interest from Inter Milan during the summer transfer window but ultimately, a move failed to materialise after they pursued Sime Vrsaljko from Atletico Madrid instead.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Zappacosta admitted that he is content with Chelsea for the moment but he could be tempted to return to Italy, should he fail to make a mark under Maurizio Sarri, he said: “Could I return to Italy? Yes, Inter had been after me. My agent Alessandro Lucci had told me about their interest, although I’ve always remained focused on Chelsea. Could I return in January? I have three more years on my contract here and I only want to think about doing well with Chelsea. There’s a lot of competition here, but I want to win a place in the team. After that, it’s clear that if I didn’t find much room, I don’t think any player would like that.”
Former West Ham United striker Dean Ashton has said that he is not surprised by the ongoing speculation linking Willian with a move to Barcelona. The Brazil international has been one of the Blues’ most consistent performers over the past five years and Ashton believes the attacker has been more important to the Blues than Eden Hazard.
Speaking on TalkSPORT, he said: “There is no surprise Barcelona are after Willian. He’s maybe more important to Chelsea than Hazard. I think over the last three seasons he’s actually been more consistent in his performances. Willian goes under the radar because of Hazard’s brilliance at times. I feel like Hazard is very in and out, it’s whenever he fancies turning it on. For Chelsea, I think a player like Thibaut Courtois is replaceable – but you can’t lose Hazard and Willian. You just can’t lose them both.”
Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard has said that Tunisia’s need to win helped Belgium secure a comfortable 5-2 friendly in the group stage of the World Cup. The Red Devils had already registered a 3-0 triumph over Panama in the tournament opener and the victory over Tunisia has certainly assured their place at the World Cup finals, barring a miracle of some sort.
Speaking after the game, Hazard was impressed with the overall performance of the team and he most notably praised Romelu Lukaku, who bagged another brace to become the joint top-scorer alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup. He said: “I think the match was easy because we scored after five minutes and we knew Tunisia needed to win and would leave spaces and would be open. Our strength was to counter and move up very quickly.
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson believes midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be picked by England for the upcoming World Cup finals in Russia. The 22-year-old joined the Eagles on a season-long loan from Chelsea last summer and he has since been one of the club’s standout performers despite missing four months of action with a knee injury.
Speaking ahead of Palace’s game against West Bromwich Albion, Hodgson suggested that Loftus-Cheek should be considered by the Three Lions and he would have done so, should he have remained in charge of the national team. Hodgson said: “Yes. I don’t wish to suggest anybody to (England boss) Gareth Southgate, because it’s his decision alone, and I don’t want to be seen to be pushing any player towards him. (But) if it was a much more specific question; if it was me selecting the squad, would I find a place for him in the squad, I would.”
Loftus-Cheek’s performances have certainly not gone unspotted this campaign and he was offered his maiden cap with England back in November where he put in a man of the match display against Germany. The Chelsea graduate could not replicate his showing in the next outing versus Brazil but he nevertheless impressed Southgate, who believed his progress was halted at Stamford Bridge.
England are presently short of efficient options in midfield with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain already ruled out with a season-ending injury and this could bring Loftus-Cheek into the mix, considering Southgate does not have a fitness assurance when dealing with the likes of Adam Lallana and Jack Wilshere.
Liverpool’s James Milner has been another talked out in the media but the 32-year-old is not keen on coming out of international retirement after the way he was treated at the European Championship in France. The ex-Aston Villa man managed just three minutes for England during a dismal tournament where they suffered a shock exit to Iceland in the round of 16 stage.
Belgium international Eden Hazard has indicated that he wants the clarity over the situation at Chelsea before deciding on whether to commit his future to the club. The attacker was the standout performer for the Blues last season with 17 goals and seven assists and he scored the match-winning penalty in the FA Cup final win over Manchester United.
Despite this, the Blues experienced an average season by their standards as they could only manage a fifth place finish in the Premier League and Hazard is now on finding out how the club may improve next term. Obviously, there is plenty of talk of Antonio Conte being replaced and the attacker is now eager to witness fresh recruits who can transform the club next season.
Chelsea favourite Roberto di Matteo believes his former club should stick with Antonio Conte beyond the current campaign. The Blues have underperformed during Conte’s second season in charge of the club and there has been strong speculation that the Italian could be replaced in the summer.
Despite this, Di Matteo believes the 48-year-old should be offered another year at the helm with the opportunity to become their head coach for the long-term, he told Sky Sports: “It’s great, I think it’s good (if Conte is still in charge). I hope he can stay on as well, I hope he stays. I hope he’s going to be the long-term manager at the club.So I think it’s the way forward. But I don’t know really, this is just my opinion.” Continue reading
ESPN Pundit Alejandro Moreno admitted that he was wrong to suggest that Alvaro Morata would turn out to be a success with Chelsea during the ongoing season. The Spain international was brought in as a straight replacement for compatriot Diego Costa from Real Madrid, and he made an instant impact with the Blues, scoring seven goals in his first eight appearances.
However, he has since struggled to find the scoresheet regularly, owing to injuries, fitness and a loss of form, and he is currently on 13 goals across 39 games through the season. Speaking on the ESPN FC show, Moreno admitted that Morata has underperformed during his maiden English campaign, and believes his struggles have been due to Conte’s management as well as his average showing in the frontline, he said: “I have to say I was wrong on Morata. I thought he would be better than he has been. Now, Conte hasn’t exactly done him any favours. But Morata himself his performances individually have not been good.”