As Maurizio Sarri attempts to implement his distinctive style of football at Chelsea — “Sarrismo” or “Sarri-ball” — we can continue to look to Napoli for any hints as to how it all may turn out in the end, and listen to any players (not just Jorginho) who have had first-hand experience in working with the coach.
Take Napoli legend Marek Hamšík, currently closing in the club’s all-time appearance record. He was already an established star, an Naples’ favorite adopted son, when Sarri took over in 2015. And yet, there was still room for Sarri to improve the then 28-year-old’s game.
Redeployed a bit deeper than under Benítez or Mazzarri — in what is expected to be Mateo Kovačić’s role at Chelsea, on the left side of midfield — Hamšík was twice named to the Serie A Team of the Year and set a career high with 15 goals in 2016-17, at age 29. Towards the end of last season, he even surpassed Diego Maradona as the club’s leading goalscorer.
Surely enough, he loves what Sarri taught him.
“Sarri is a man who belongs on the field, he lived the game 24-7. He was a sick man. He was obsessed with football and never even let the slightest detail get by him.”
“What has improved me the most, has made me evolve technically and tactically, is Mr. Sarri.”
-Marek Hamšík; source: Corriere dello Sport
If Sarri can have that much impact on a veteran with a vast amount of professional and international experience, just imagine what he can do with 24-year-old Kovačić, who’s already turning heads with his impeccable 30-minute cameo against Arsenal last weekend.
This could be truly exciting. Especially if we can pry Kovačić loose from Real Madrid next summer.