Champions League is overhyped says Chelsea boss Sarri

Blues still holding out for €115 million to sell Hazard to Real Madrid this summer

Eden Hazard: Real Madrid expect to complete the signing of the Chelsea star during the summer. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Eden Hazard: Real Madrid expect to complete the signing of the Chelsea star during the summer. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

 

Maurizio Sarri has said he believes the Champions League is overhyped. The Chelsea boss concedes Europe’s top-tier competition remains the world’s premier club tournament, but insists its importance is overstated.

Chelsea must win the Europa League or secure a top-four Premier League finish to qualify for next term’s Champions League.

Exclusion from the continent’s top table hampers recruitment and hits revenue, leaving Sarri’s employers possibly unimpressed with his Champions League views.

“I think the media give the Champions League too much importance,” said Sarri, whose future at Chelsea remains far from stable.

“Of course it’s the most important competition for clubs. But it’s a competition with straight elimination, so we need to play very well but you need to be lucky in that competition. I can understand if you stay in the Champions League it’s another world probably.

“I have played two times in the Champions League and it’s clear that it’s the most important competition for clubs in Europe and, as a consequence, in the world I think. But it’s a competition in which you need to be lucky.”

Chelsea will face Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-finals, while they host Burnley on Monday night in pursuit of their top-four Premier League quest.

“At the moment we cannot choose: we have to try in the Premier League, we have to try in the Europa League,” said Sarri.

“But we want to win the Europa League because it’s a very important competition, not for getting into the Champions League, so we have to try in the Premier League to get into the top four.

“It’s not easy for us, we have to play only four matches but we have to try.

“I think in the last four matches it will be difficult for every team involved in fighting for the top four, not only for us.

Strange results

“And so we can see some very strange results in the last part of the season; we have to fight and to see at the end.”

Olivier Giroud has warned Chelsea he needs a more prominent role to stay at the club next season, but the Blues are still expected to trigger the extra year’s option on his contract to keep him at Stamford Bridge.

Asked if he thinks Giroud already plays enough, Sarri said: “I think so. But he is playing because he is very useful for us.

“Giroud played match number 39 [on Thursday]. Not number nine, 39! He’s started 19 or 20, I don’t remember.

“For 70 minutes [against Slavia Prague], very useful, played very well. But he needs to recover like the other players, more than the other players because he is 90 kilos and after the match he needs time to recover.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are still holding out for €115 million to sell Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. The Blues are understood to be standing firm on their valuation of star forward Hazard, determined not to lose their talisman at a knockdown price. Madrid continue to expect precious little delay on completing a deal to sign the Belgium playmaker this summer.

But Chelsea are insisting that Madrid meet their valuation of their top asset, despite Real wanting to pay €98 million for the 28-year-old.

Hazard’s Chelsea contract expires next summer and the 100-cap Belgium flyer has refused to sign new terms. The 19-goal star is enjoying his best-ever season at the Stamford Bridge club, and has himself insisted he will wait until the end of the campaign to resolve his future.

– PA

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