Sarri hopes Haz­ard will fol­low Kanté lead

Tot­ten­ham v Chelsea Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, to­day, 5.30pm Live on BT Sport 1

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER - DO­MINIC FIFIELD

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 ¤328,000 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 to­day, 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-time 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. He has to im­prove in the last 25 me­tres. He can score more.”

Sarri has ex­pressed ad­mi­ra­tion for Chris­tian Erik­sen of Tot­ten­ham be­fore this evening’s meet­ing of the sides who are third and fourth in the ta­ble.

“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.

– Guardian

Mau­r­izio Sarri: “N’Golo, for us, is a ‘de­ter­min­ing’ player”

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