Sarri hopes Hazard will follow Kanté lead
Tottenham v Chelsea Wembley Stadium, today, 5.30pm Live on BT Sport 1
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.
Maurizio Sarri: “N’Golo, for us, is a ‘determining’ player”