Sarri hopes Hazard will follow Kanté into new Chelsea deal
Kanté’s fresh five-year contract with Chelsea makes him highest paid on club’s books
Chelsea’s Italian head coach Maurizio Sarri: “N’Golo, for us, is not just an important player – he’s a ‘determining’ player.” Photograph: Olly Greenwood/AFP/Getty Images
Maurizio Sarri has welcomed the “important news” that N’Golo Kanté has signed a new five-year contract at Chelsea and, with the club under threat of a transfer embargo as Fifa investigates the recruitment of minors from abroad, is hopeful Eden Hazard will follow suit.
Kanté, secured from Leicester in the summer of 2016 and an ever-present in the league under Sarri, has signed a deal to 2023 worth around £290,000 a week, establishing him as the highest-paid player on Chelsea’s books. Chelsea have been hoping to tie down Hazard to similar terms for some time, though no agreement has been reached. The Belgian, who indicated over the summer that he may be ready to leave after six years at Stamford Bridge, is contracted until 2020.
Sarri, asked about any news on talks with Hazard, who should feature against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, said: “I don’t know the evolution of the deal, for the new contract, but he’s very well. Fortunately, he played the last match with the national team on Sunday, so he came back here on Tuesday. For us, that’s very important. I don’t know the evolution of the new contract, but I think we can do [it] . I hope so, I hope so.”
Kanté, a two-times Premier League winner and a key member of France’s successful World Cup campaign last summer, has suggested he has improved in his short time under Sarri’s stewardship this season. “N’Golo, for us, is not just an important player,” Sarri said. “He’s a ‘determining’ player for us. So I’m really happy with the new contract. Clearly very pleased for him. And it’s a very important news, I think.
“I know that David Luiz said something about him, that he never wants to pay the bill in the restaurant [owned by David Luiz and Willian]. So he has a flaw like everybody. But I think he is a really professional player, very professional on the pitch and off the pitch. He’s very important for us in the defensive phase, but he is improving in the offensive movements. Now he has to improve in the last 25 metres. He can score more.”
I don’t want to talk about a player of Tottenham in terms of the market. I only answered a question
Sarri has expressed admiration for Christian Eriksen of Tottenham before Saturday evening’s meeting of the sides who are third and fourth in the Premier League, though the Chelsea head coach has admitted that shaping a team capable of challenging for the title will rely more on hard work at training.
Eriksen has 18 months to run on his contract at Spurs, with the manager, Mauricio Pochettino, having suggested the club are “working hard” to secure him to a new, long-term deal.
“Of course Harry Kane is the best English striker in the moment, so a very important player, but if I have to say another name, I like very much Eriksen,” Sarri said. “He is a very smart player, a very technical player. He’s able to play in midfield and, at the same moment, score eight or nine goals in a season. I think that he is a very important player. I like him very much but I don’t want to talk about a player of Tottenham in terms of the market. I only answered a question.”
Sarri reiterated that his unbeaten team are not contenders for the title, saying Manchester City was “stronger than us”. He believes even lavish spending in January would not bridge that gap.
“Not at the moment,” he added. “I believe in another [approach to] football. It’s impossible to recover only via the market. Maybe you are able to buy two or three very important players, but maybe one is not suitable for your team. So it’s not easy, also, by going into the market. We have to work.”