Courtois can leave if he wants: Sarri

Chelsea have been linked with moves for AC Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma, Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel and Everton's Jordan Pickford to replace their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois should he leave to join Real Madrid.
Chelsea have been linked with moves for AC Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma, Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel and Everton's Jordan Pickford to replace their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois should he leave to join Real Madrid.PHOTO: REUTERS

Blues boss resigned to losing No. 1 but wants replacement; Pep also wants reinforcements

LONDON • Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has suggested he is open to allowing Thibaut Courtois to depart Stamford Bridge this week.

Courtois' agent, Christophe Henrotay, has said the 'keeper wants to move to Real Madrid to be closer to his daughter, who lives in Spain.

According to ESPN, sources close to the club have said that Courtois has informed Sarri he has no intention of staying after a talk with the manager at the training ground in Cobham yesterday.

Prior to the meeting, Sarri had said that the Belgian, who returned from post-World Cup leave, must explain his ambitions in person before Chelsea consider accepting a bid for him.

"I'm not interested in the agent," the 59-year-old Italian said after his side's 2-0 Community Shield loss to Manchester City on Sunday.

"I want to hear Courtois. If Courtois says the same, I have to speak with my club because I only want players with a high level of motivation."

Real have until the end of the month to sign Courtois, but Chelsea must first bring in a replacement before the Premier League transfer window closes on Thursday.

The Blues have been linked with moves for AC Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma, Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City and Jordan Pickford, the Everton and England goalkeeper, among others.

Since being appointed as Antonio Conte's successor at Chelsea this summer, Sarri has yet to work with Courtois and five other players given extended breaks after the World Cup, including Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kante.

He admitted there was "a little difference, maybe a lot" between Chelsea and City at Wembley, but insisted the little time working with the players was a major factor.

However, he could not say how long it would take for the players to adjust to his methods.

"I don't know. I arrived here three weeks ago and have only seen six players," Sarri said.

"It is so very difficult. We have the idea to press, but sometimes they did not do it in the right way. We have the idea of being in control but today we were not."

After watching his team win the Premier League curtain-raiser thanks to a brace from Sergio Aguero, Pep Guardiola claimed that he, too, could be active in the transfer market this week.

The City manager saw a deal for Jorginho fall through last month, when the Italy midfielder chose to join Chelsea. Club sources said at the time that Guardiola was unlikely to move for another midfielder, but the Spaniard contradicted that claim on Sunday.

NO OBJECTIONS

I want to hear Courtois. If Courtois says the same, I have to speak with my club because I only want players with a high level of motivation.

MAURIZIO SARRI, Chelsea manager, on his No. 1 goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois' desire to return to Spain.

City are reported to have scouted Julian Weigl of Borussia Dortmund.

When asked if he would sign anyone this week, Guardiola said: "I don't know. We are trying. We would like to find maybe one more because we don't have two specific players to substitute Fernandinho.

"But, if he doesn't come, there will not be anyone else. I was focused on the final today, so we will just see what happens."

Guardiola was impressed by his team's display in which they outclassed a slow and blunt Chelsea side despite the absence of Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and David Silva, who have all been given time off after the World Cup.

"In general, we made a good performance," he said. "I didn't expect that level in that period after a short, short training session.

"But still we are far away from the (best) physical condition. The players are in bad, bad conditions.

"We didn't train a lot this week. We wanted to arrive fresh in this heat. It's complicated for all of them but they are so competitive. It's not easy to play after such a short time.

STILL ON THE LOOKOUT

We are trying. We would like to find maybe one more because we don't have two specific players to substitute Fernandinho.

PEP GUARDIOLA , Manchester City manager, on looking for more options and cover in midfield.

"We have seven days to train this week and hopefully we can increase that level. Now we focus on Arsenal (on Sunday). The training? Two sessions a day."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2018, with the headline 'Courtois can leave if he wants: Sarri'. Print Edition | Subscribe