Maurizio Sarri is set to return to Italy to take the vacant managerial role at Juventus and bring the curtain down on a fretful one-year stay at Chelsea.
Sarri met his targets by returning Chelsea to the Champions League via a third-place finish in the Premier League and winning the Europa League, claiming his first major trophy as a coach in the process.
However, a failure to connect with the Chelsea support, public criticism of his players and a refusal to adapt his style of play meant Sarri was always unlikely to hang around for a second season at Stamford Bridge.
The 60-year-old former banker becomes the ninth full-time manager to leave Chelsea since Roman Abramovich took charge of the club in 2003.
Yet, for once the Russian didn’t wield the axe and waited instead until Juventus agreed to pay the compensation to free Sarri from the final two years of his contract on Thursday, according to reports in England and Italy.
The Italian champions are keen on the brand of football Sarri imposed during three years at Napoli when only Juventus’ remarkable consistency prevented the Neapolitans a first league title since the days when Diego Maradona graced the San Paolo pitch.
However, Sarri failed to transport that free-flowing football to Chelsea, despite making midfield playmaker Jorginho his first signing.
After a brilliant start to the season that saw Sarri’s men keep pace with Premier League champions Manchester City and Champions League winners Liverpool, Chelsea fans soon rebelled at a ponderous possession game with little cutting edge.
After a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal in January, Sarri labelled his players “very difficult to motivate”.
– Frustration –
Worse was to come as a 4-0 thrashing at Bournemouth was followed by a 6-0 demolition by Manchester City — Chelsea’s heaviest defeat in 28 years.