Chelsea hired Maurizio Sarri as its manager on a three-year contract on Saturday, bringing in a headstrong coach known for his expansive, attacking approach to football and for revitalizing Napoli in his only stint with a big European club.
The 59-year-old Italian replaced Antonio Conte, who was fired on Friday after two years in charge in which he won the Premier League and FA Cup but failed to gain the power he wanted at Stamford Bridge.
Sarri earned praise from the likes of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola for the way he turned around the fortunes of Napoli from 2015-18, returning the team to the Champions League and almost snatching the Italian league title from Juventus with his innovative way of thinking and attention to detail.
“Maurizio’s Napoli side played some of the most exciting football in Europe, impressing with their attacking approach and dynamism,” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said, “and his coaching methods significantly improved the players at his disposal.”
Sarri’s Napoli was a team that attacked relentlessly with free-flowing ball movement and constant running, just like City under Guardiola.
It scored 94 goals in the 2016-17 season in Serie A, the highest return of any top-flight Italian club since the turn of the century.
The style of play became widely known as “Sarri-ball.” One of the key cogs in that Napoli team was center midfielder Jorginho, and the 26-year-old Italy international has followed Sarri to Stamford Bridge in a move announced about two hours after Sarri was officially hired.
“I hope we can provide some entertaining football for our fans,” Sarri said in a message to Chelsea fans, “and that we will be competing for trophies at the end of the season, which is what this club deserves.”