Maurizio Sarri cares about transfer rumors about as much as he cares about dressing up. If he has to pick something, he’s going to pick something he’s familiar with, something he knows fits him ... well?
That may be overselling his fashion choices, but when it comes to his football, he definitely likes his players already well-versed in the intricacies of Sarri-ball. Chelsea’s transfers this season certainly underline that notion, with Jorginho and Gonzalo Higuaín arriving as per his requests, to mixed results.
All along, a third name had been frequently linked with Chelsea as well. Full back Elseid Hysaj, who turned 25 a couple months ago, had played just 1 of his 137 professional appearances for a head coach other than Maurizio Sarri before the start of this season, across three seasons at each of Empoli and Napoli, from 2012 to 2018. Sarri-ball might as well be his middle name!
He was strongly linked to follow Sarri in the summer, but Napoli supremo Aurelio De Laurentiis made it official state business to deny that with a non-belligerence clause. Hysaj was linked again in the fall, then in January as well — both times at over €40m, possibly as high as the £45m release clause — while his fortunes under new Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti waxed and waned. He’s featured regularly, to be sure, but has not had as good of a time as under Sarri.
So with his contract expiring next season, the narrative has started to expect a move in the summer once again, and that was before Napoli had even crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Arsenal. And what destination more logical could there be for Hysaj than Chelsea, who may yet bend over backward more for this coach more so than all recent others for some reason?
Throw in the reported willingness of Napoli to do business at about half the price for the man who can play on either flank (but usually prefers right) — €25m would practically be a bargain int his market, even with an expiring contract! — and we might as well underline this one, especially if Sarri does get a second season.