Maurizio Sarri ‘U-turn’, Gonzalo Higuain’s future and the verdict on Frank Lampard

Maurizio Sarri 'U-turn', Gonzalo Higuain's future and the verdict on Frank Lampard | Transfer News

It is a big day in the football calendar as the fixtures are released for the new Premier League season, with Chelsea set to find out their schedule for the 2019/20 campaign.

But there is plenty going on when it comes to the Blues besides the excitement of the fixtures being released, including the future of manager Maurizio Sarri amid reports he is close to making the move back to Italy to join Juventus.

And with his future as Chelsea boss looking more uncertain by the day, we take a look at the latest news from Stamford Bridge, including what people have said about one of the leading candidates to replace the Italian in the hotseat.

What would Maurizio Sarri to Juventus mean for Gonzalo Higuain?

The Chelsea boss is said to be close to agreeing the move to Turin to join Juventus as the successor to Massimiliano Allegri.

So, Sarri is on the brink of joining Juventus. Does that mean Gonzalo Higuain follows?

The Argentine had a pretty underwhelming half a season at Chelsea after making the loan move from Juventus in January.

The 31-year-old netted just five Premier League goals in 14 appearances, including 13 starts, with two of them coming against Huddersfield Town.

But Chelsea have the option to extend his loan deal, as confirmed by Juventus when the move was agreed in January.

The Juventus statement in January, read: “The agreement also grants to Chelsea FC the options to extend the duration of the loan until 30 June 2020, for a consideration of €18 million to be paid in 2019/2020 financial year, or to acquire the registration rights of the player on a permanent basis for €36 million to be paid in two financial years.”

So will that happen, or will Higuain go back to Juventus to link up with Sarri once again in Serie A, after their success at Napoli?

Oliver Harbord investigates what Sarri’s departure would mean for Higuain.

Chelsea ‘U-turn’ on Sarri?

Reports in Italy suggest that Sarri is on the brink of making the switch to join Juventus.

But according to The Sun, there has been a dramatic U-turn, with Chelsea reportedly making a last-ditch attempt to try and convince the Italian to stay in west London.

Sarri signed a three-year contract with the club last summer when he replaced Antonio Conte, and although he has been quoted as saying he is homesick after a “tough year” with the Blues, it is being reported that members of the Chelsea hierarchy are reluctant to let him go, after the Blues won the Europa League and secured Champions League football via a third-placed finish in the Premier League.

And while Sarri’s methods and style of play haven’t been universally popular with the fan base, Chelsea are reportedly weighing up whether trying to persuade him to stay on is the best option, amid the club’s transfer ban.

The verdict on Frank Lampard

Maurizio Sarri 'U-turn', Gonzalo Higuain's future and the verdict on Frank Lampard | Transfer News
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The Blues legend is among the frontrunners to replace Sarri, if he does leave to join Juventus.

He has done well in his first season in management with Derby County, guiding the Rams to the Championship play-off final, only to lose out to Aston Villa at Wembley.

But that has not stopped him from being heavily linked with replacing Sarri at Stamford Bridge, with the bookmakers making him the favourite to be in charge next season.

So what have others said about Lampard and whether he is ready for the job?

Several managers in the Championship have been full of praise for the former midfielder, including Sheffield Wednesday boss Steve Bruce.

As reported by the by the Derby Telegraph , he said: “I’m delighted for Frank’s brigade that him and Stevie (Steven Gerrard) have gone into management because we need some young, up-and-coming English managers.

“It is good to see Frank making a good fist of it.

Nottingham Forest boss Martin O’Neill has also spoken highly of the former England international, and his credentials as a manager.

“If his managerial career has any bearing at all on his playing career, he is set to be terrific,” O’Neill told the Nottigham Post in February.

“He is one of the best players to have played in the Premier League. He was a goal scoring midfielder of incredible repute.

“He has been doing fine in his first season in management. But you probably would expect that, given his background in the game.”

And you can see more of what the managers he has faced this season , including Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa and Aston Villa’s Dean Smith, have said about him here.

It is not just opposing managers who have been praising the Chelsea legend though, with the comments from his players at Derby also showing how highly thought of he is as a boss, and how well he has done with the Rams.

“He’s got us playing,” Jack Marriott told DerbyshireLive .

“From what I’m aware, we didn’t play as much football last season. So he’s changed the style of football and brought in quite a few players.

“To be able to get this far has shown what the manager and staff can bring to us, and how us as players can adapt to different styles.

“He’s encouraging us in the dressing room and you can get advice from him.

“He’s done it on the big stage – in Champions League finals, so it’s great for us that we can tap into that.”

Meanwhile, Derby midfielder Tom Huddlestone has also spoken about what Lampard and the Rams have done this season, as he reflected on the disappointment of just missing out on promotion.

“Reflecting on the campaign, the 32-year-old said: “I think overall, being the manager’s first season, nine new (summer) signings, young lads coming in, everyone clicked instantly, especially off the pitch. I think it’s been positive. We’ve gone a step further than we did last year.

“It’s disappointing (not to get promoted), obviously, but once the dust settles down over the next few weeks, come pre-season, we can probably look at it as a positive season.”

And you can read more about what the Derby players, including Chelsea loanees Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, have had to say about Lampard, here.

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