Maurizio Sarri Profile
|Born||Jan 10, 1959|
With a clearly-defined style of play and three decades of coaching experience, Maurizio Sarri is one of soccer's most knowledgeable managers. Having started in the amateur game, he's risen to the top.
Maurizio Sarri is an Italian coach who is most famous for his time in charge of Napoli, Chelsea and Juventus. His football style is known as "Sarri-ball" - a possession-based philosophy which uses a deep-lying playmaker in midfield.
Sarri used to play amateur soccer and work in a bank. In 2000, while he was manager of Tegoleto he decided to focus exclusively on football coaching.
After leaving Tegoleto, Sarri rose up the managerial ranks slowly. He managed 10 Italian clubs, before taking charge of Empoli from 2012 to 2015, then he joined Napoli.
At Napoli, Sarri achieved three successive top three finishes in Serie A, but was unable to topple Juventus, the dominant team of the era.
At Chelsea, Sarri won his first major trophy - the 2019 UEFA Europa League. After just one season in London he moved to Juventus, where he won his first Serie A title in 2019/20.
Maurizio Sarri and Juventus
After the 2018/19 season, Sarri reached an agreement with Chelsea for the early termination of his three-year contract, enabling him to become the manager of Juventus.
"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," said Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia.
"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."
There was speculation throughout Sarri's time at Juventus that his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo was strained. He also caused controversy when he said that if he could lose to anybody, it would be Napoli, his former club.
Although he was not necessarily the most popular Juventus manager, he did achieve what he failed to do at Napoli - winning the Serie A title. Sarri's Juventus fended off stern challenges from Inter Milan and Lazio, to claim the club's ninth consecutive title. Juve also reached the final of the Coppa Italia, however lost 4-2 on penalties to Napoli.
Losing to Lyon in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in 2019/20 proved to be the catalyst for Sarri's downfall at Juventus. He was replaced by Andrea Pirlo at the end of the season.
Sarri-ball at Chelsea
Sarri became Chelsea manager shortly before the start of the 2018/19 season, replacing compatriot Antonio Conte. He did not have a full pre-season with his team, but they started the campaign well with Eden Hazard performing well in what proved to be his last season at Stamford Bridge.
The major signings brought in to aid Sarri at Chelsea were Jorginho from his former club, Napoli, and Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao to replace Real Madrid bound Thibaut Courtois. Kepa's €80million transfer fee was a world record for a goalkeeper.
Sarri struggled to play new signing Jorginho and existing holding midfielder N'Golo Kante in the same side. Sarri attempted to solve this problem by playing Kante slightly further forward in the midfield, although he never gained widespread approval from Chelsea supporters for this tactic.
Chelsea were undefeated for the first 12 games of the season, however after losing 3-1 to Tottenham Hotspur in November, their form began to falter. However, Chelsea remained competitive in the League Cup and UEFA Europa League.
Controversy followed in the League Cup final against Manchester City on 24 February 2019. The match ended 0-0, but Kepa refused to be substituted by Sarri, who was looking to bring on Willy Caballero ahead of the penalty shootout. It appeared to be a misunderstanding, with Kepa believing that Sarri thought he was injured and this was the only reason why he should come off. However, Sarri's anger at Kepa's defiance was clear and the goalkeeper was temporarily dropped. To make matters worse, City won the penalty shootout.
Nevertheless, Sarri will argue that his methods were vindicated by Chelsea's results at the end of the season. The Blues claimed third place in the Premier League, behind Manchester City and Liverpool. Furthermore, they beat London rivals Arsenal 4-1 in Baku to win the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of the season, Sarri returned to Italy to manage Juventus.
Moving up the ranks to Napoli
After three years at Empoli, Sarri was hired by Napoli in 2015 to replace the outgoing Rafael Benitez as head coach.
Sarri brought in Elseid Hysaj, Pepe Reina, and Allan to strengthen his side. They proved crucial as Napoli enjoyed an impressive season, finishing second in Serie A behind Juventus. In the previous campaign, they had finished fifth.
Sarri faced a major challenge when Higuain left Napoli for Juventus in 2016. He converted Dries Mertens to a centre forward, with the Belgian having played out wide previously. Napoli finished third in 2016/17 and Sarri picked up the Enzo Bearzot Award for coach of the year.
In 2017/18, Sarri came closer than ever to winning the Scudetto with Napoli, but they were beaten to the title by Juventus by four points and had to settle for second place.
Sarri is well-known for his smoking habit and his casual dressing style. He worked in the bank in the morning before going to training later during his amateur playing career as a centre-back and later in the early years of his coaching career.
Sarri was accused of using a homophobic slur against then-Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini while competing against him in the Coppa Italia with Napoli. Furthermore, he was accused of being sexist towards a reporter. When he moved to Chelsea, he expressed regret over these incidents.
Sarri earned a reported €6million for his season as Juventus manager and there were reports upon Andrea Pirlo's appointment to replace him that it would cost them at least €8.5million to terminate his contract.