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Chelsea ready to kick-start Sarri era

| | Huddersfield (UK)

A frantic 48 hours in the transfer market provided Chelsea with a timely lift after last weekend's Community Shield defeat to Manchester City.

The 2-0 loss left new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri to rue the difference between the two teams, with Pep Guardiola's champions looking sharper and fitter than the Italian's side.

Sarri has been in post for less than four weeks and the last thing he needed was to go into the first game of the new season at Huddersfield on Saturday against the backdrop of a protracted stand-off between the club and keeper Thibaut Courtois.

But Chelsea moved quickly to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao for £71.6 million — a world record for a keeper — on a seven-year contract, triggering Courtois's exit to Real.

As part of the deal for the Belgian, Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic moved in the opposite direction on a season-long loan.

For a club desperate to progress after a fractious campaign that was marred by a rift between coach Antonio Conte and the club and ended with a disappointing fifth placed finish, it was good business all round.

Now, Sarri must do all he can to prevent Eden Hazard following his international team-mate to Madrid, although the current signs are the Belgium star has been convinced to stay.

Sarri, the former Napoli coach, can continue his efforts to introduce the 4-3-3 system he used so successfully in Serie A after two seasons of 3-4-3 under Conte.

Klopp's great expectations

London: Jurgen Klopp says he has high expectations for Liverpool's ability to challenge for the Premier League title after spending the most of any of his rivals in the close season.

Klopp, whose long-time number two Zeljko Buvac left abruptly towards the end of last term, fell back one of his favourite analogies saying Liverpool were Sylvester Stallone's fictional boxer Rocky Balboa rather than his Soviet opponent Ivan Drago.

"The champions are Manchester City, they did not lose any players and brought in Riyad Mahrez, that does not make them weaker, we saw the Chelsea game and saw and they were impressive," he said.

"We are still Rocky Balboa and not Ivan Drago, we are the ones who have to do more and fight more, that must be our attitude.

‘Thank you Jurgen'

Guardiola, whose biggest investment in the close season transfer market was in Algerian international Riyad Mahrez paying Pound 60million to Leicester City, said he would have preferred greater warning than being told on the day the transfer window came down.

"They didn't know him, not one game, not one training session, to know if he can play or not," he said.

"I would have preferred it if it wasn't announced on Thursday.

"If they decide the rules are the rules, let me know 15 days ago and maybe we can decide what we can do but one day before and you decide he can't play because, I don't know, he is not tall enough, doesn't play enough, games in the past or something like that? Okay."

 
 
 
 
 

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