Chelsea boss Sarri admits Zola is closer to Abramovich than him
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has revealed club owner Roman Abramovich is more vocal with his assistant Gianfranco Zola than him.
Zola joined the Blues last summer as part of Sarri’s backroom staff, reuniting the Italian with the west London club more than 15 years after he left for Cagliari during his playing days.
What is Sarri’s relationship with Abramovich? Five key things to know…
- A regular in the stands over the years, Abramovich has not attended a single game this season.
- Sarri offered a thinly-veiled swipe at Abramovich in February after speculation mounted over his future.
- The Italian stated: “If the president calls, I’ll be happy, seeing as I never hear from him.”
- Sarri has now added fuel to those comments with his latest admission regarding communication.
- He has revealed that a language barrier means Abramovich speaks more regularly with Zola about club matters than himself.
This is not the first time Sarri has questioned the communication levels he experiences in west London, having revealed two months ago that he rarely hears from Abramovich, despite his role being placed under intense scrutiny.
Sarri’s tenure has been called into question at numerous stages of this season and those rumours are likely to intensify if Chelsea fail to secure Champions League football next season.
Following defeat to Everton, Chelsea have secured back-to-back wins against Cardiff and Brighton respectively and are now level on points with fourth-place Arsenal.
Things have certainly picked up since a tumultuous January and February, but the Italian has admitted he is still in the dark about his long-term future, though is not too concerned.
He told the Evening Standard: “He (Abramovich) has some problems now, but he is involved with the club, with the team. How much contact do I have with him? (He speaks to) Zola more than me because Zola speaks English better than me, of course.
“He is the owner, and so he is able to influence the technical staff, the club, the players, everything I think.
“Also in Naples (where Sarri was coach of Napoli), the president Aurelio (De Laurentiis) wasn’t in the training ground every day.
“He was in the training ground once a month, no more. So it’s really very similar.”
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Double-barrel duo “ready”
Much of the criticism aimed at Sarri this season has been due to his reluctance to give significant playing time to Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
However, both started during the 3-0 demolition of Brighton on Wednesday and Sarri believes both are now ready to secure regular starting berths in his XI following problems earlier in the campaign.
When quizzed whether he felt pressure to start the youngsters, Sarri said: “No. It’s up to the players, they are improving.
“In this moment of the season, they are fresh. So I think that, in this moment, they are really very important for us. But at the beginning of the season, Odoi had a very great potential but wasn’t ready to play in the Premier League.
“Loftus the same. He had only to adapt to my football, to improve tactically for my football.
“Then he had a lot of problems with his back, and so we had to wait for him. But now they are fresh; they are ready.”