How Sarri is convincing Hazard, Kante to sign Chelsea renewals

Chelsea believe Maurizio Sarri’s management style, relaxed approach and valuation of the club could prove to be instrumental in their attempts to convince Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante to sign a contract renewal.

Hazard’s existing deal is due to run out in 2020 and he was heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus back in July.

“You all know my preferred destination” said Hazard in Russia, upon being asked about his future at the height of his form with Belgium. Chelsea refused to enter negotiations over a transfer, though, and the Belgium international in the end stressed he is happy with life at Stamford Bridge.

“You know what I said after the World Cup. I’m happy here,” the 27-year-old Hazard stated in August. “Many things have been said – nonsense and everything.

“For now, I’m happy. I still have two years of contract [left] and we’ll see what happens. I will not leave [this year].”

Kante, meanwhile, recently admitted there was contact with Paris Saint-Germain after the World Cup, but stressed a transfer was never really an option.

“There were some contacts [from PSG]. But after a discussion with Chelsea I realised that the main thing was to feel good where I was. I am at Chelsea. It’s good for me to stay at Chelsea,” the France international – whose deal runs until 2021 – stated.

Hazard and Kante have so far been reluctant to commit their long-term future to Chelsea following an underwhelming 2017-18 campaign under Antonio Conte, but the club’s willingness to make them their best-paid players ever at £300,000 per week and the presence of Sarri could see that stance change.

The former Napoli boss has gotten rid of some of the strict rules from the Conte era – most importantly the dietary restrictions – to loosen up the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge and his attacking style of play has been a welcome change to his compatriot’s often negative approach.

Eden Hazard Chelsea

Hazard in particular has flourished this term and he acknowledged back in September that he’s found back his joy under Sarri.

“I like to have the ball,” he told Chelsea TV. “Not in my own half, but in the last 30 metres.

“I like this type of game, it’s completely different from Antonio Conte or [Jose] Mourinho before. Like I say, we have more of the ball so for me it’s not bad.”

It’s not just the relaxed atmosphere and attacking style of play that Sarri is bringing to the table in Chelsea’s attempts to win over Hazard and Kante, though, as the 59-year-old has been adamant to the duo that Chelsea are as good as any club that’s been showing an interest in signing them.

“Chelsea are one of the most important clubs in Europe,” Sarri stressed in August, before repeatedly making his point again in the following weeks. 

“I am the coach of a very good team. I am the coach of a very great club.”

Additionally, Sarri has been making it clear Chelsea value the duo more than any other club will.

Hazard and Kante are Chelsea’s two undisputed star men and it seems unlikely they will enjoy a similar status at either Madrid or PSG, clubs that each have numerous high-profile names on the books already.

N'Golo Kante Chelsea

At the end of the day, however, Chelsea will need to show on the pitch that they are indeed at the same level as Hazard and Kante’s potential suitors.

Closing the 30-point gap with Manchester City from last season and returning to the Champions League again after their Europa League cameo in 2018-19 will be vital to Chelsea’s hopes of tying down Hazard and Kante.

They have impressed in the opening stages of this campaign as they are competing with the likes of Liverpool and City for top spot in the Premier League, while also starting the Europa League and EFL Cup on a high.

Their encouraging start will have boosted hopes that Hazard and Kante could renew before the end of the season, thus ending talk of a move to Madrid or PSG once and for all.

And even though club director Marina Granovskaia will have done the actual negotiating, there is no denying Sarri will have been key to any deal.

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Warnock tells Hart to forget about England recall

Joe Hart has been told to forget about earning a recall to the England squad despite producing a man-of-the-match display as Burnley beat Cardiff City in the Premier League.

The Clarets claimed their first away league win of the season at the Cardiff City Stadium thanks to goals from Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Sam Vokes.

Josh Murphy did level for the South Wales club, who suffered a fourth straight loss, but Vokes headed home the winner with 20 minutes to go.

Hart was central to Sean Dyche’s side’s success with a string of saves to deny Murphy and a stop to keep out Kenneth Zohore.

Despite being left out of the England squad which competed at the World Cup, Hart has refused to give up on representing his country again.

He has not played for the Three Lions since starting against Brazil at Wembley in November 2017.

And Cardiff boss Neil Warnock does not forsee a return for the ex-Manchester City stopper despite denying his side a point on Sunday.

“I thought it epitomised the whole game that Joe Hart got man of the match. Even I was clapping the save from [Josh] Murphy. It was a fabulous save,” Warnock told reporters.

“I think he should just let it go now, really, and concentrate on enjoying his game.

“Gareth [Southgate] doesn’t play like Burnley do, it’s a different ball game and I think Jordan Pickford is better at playing it out from the back and being a sweeper.

“I didn’t see that very often today. I had to laugh when I heard Sean [Dyche] saying about our long-ball game – I don’t think they kept it more than two seconds at the back.”

Gareth Southgate will unveil his latest England squad for October’s Nations League fixtures against Croatia and Spain on Thursday, but Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Alex McCarthy are likely to be retained. Fulham’s Marcus Bettinelli was also called up during the last international break in September.

Meanwhile, the win was Burnley’s second in succession in the league and, after starting the season with a draw and four defeats, Dyche thinks his side are getting back on track.

“Now we’ve got another win on the board and the story changes, and we never make grandiose statements, but I think we are getting back to what I want us to be,” Dyche said. “But there’s still work that needs doing and plenty of room for improvement.

“We’ve had our challenges with two very good players injured, we worked hard in the [transfer] market and didn’t get everything we wanted, so that placed an extra demand on the players we’ve got.

“Then you have to add in the games programme, including two flights abroad and ending with a flight to London with 16 players.

“That’s not an easy task, but my job is to see through all that and still look at what we believe is right for the players.

“They deserve the most credit, for me, because it’s hard when you are out there, but they have performed again today in order to get a win.”

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Unai Emery wants Alex Iwobi to continue influencing Arsenal matches

Arsenal coach Unai Emery wants Alex Iwobi to stay nearer to the box so as to continue scoring and laying assists.

The Nigeria international was introduced in the 63rd minute as the Gunners sought a breakthrough against a resilient Watford in Saturday’s English Premier League tie.

Iwobi’s introduction worked a treat as he provided the assist for Craig Cathcart’s own goal and involving in the second goal scored by Mesut Ozil.

“He works hard every day,” Emery told Standard Sport .

“Three weeks ago he was out of the team for two weeks with an injury.

“I’m very happy with him and his mentality. He has the quality to play right or left, to do more one-on-ones against the opposition.

“I want him to stay nearer the box to score and be more aggressive, finding assists for team-mates. This is the way for him and other players.”

So far this season, Iwobi’s performances has seen him become a pivotal part of new coach Emery’s plan.

The Gunner has played 328 minutes in six games and has a goal with two assists to his name. He will look to increase his output in the final third in his side’s Europa League clash against Qarabag on Thursday.

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Ronaldo important to Juve but it’s a team sport – Bentancur

Cristiano Ronaldo is important for Juventus but the Serie A leaders can cope without him when he serves a Champions League suspension, says Rodrigo Bentancur.

Ronaldo inspired Juve to a 3-1 league defeat of Napoli on Saturday with a hand in all three goals against the side managed by his former Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti.

But the Portugal superstar will not be available to face Young Boys on Tuesday as he is serving a one-match ban following his dismissal against Valencia earlier this month.

Ronaldo was dismissed for an off-the-ball incident involving Jeison Murillo at Mestalla, but UEFA opted not to extend his ban so he is available for Group H clashes with former club Manchester United.

And Bentancur feels Juve will be able to manage without their talisman, with Massimiliano Allegri’s other attacking options including Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala.

“We want to win against Young Boys so that we can put one foot in the next round of the Champions League,” Bentancur said in quotes published on Juve’s website. “But we know that it will be tough because all the teams that play against us give their best.

“There will be no Cristiano and we know how important he is for us, but this is a team sport, there are 11 of us out there, whoever will be on the field will give their maximum.”

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Bentancur has made five Serie A appearances this season after impressing for Uruguay at the World Cup, with the 21-year-old happy with his involvement so far this season.

“It was incredible to play in the World Cup this summer, I never thought I could play in one so young,” Bentancur added. “We did everything we could, but we faced a great team like France and I’m happy to have had a great experience.

“I’m satisfied with how I’m getting on at Juve. I didn’t play a lot at the beginning, but in the last few matches I’ve been more involved, including against Napoli.

“I have to try to earn as much time on the field as possible and help the team. Allegri tells me to express myself and to play closer to the opponent’s area, also to score my first goal for Juventus.

“Mine hasn’t been a long career and I haven’t scored much, but sooner or later the goal will come. My objectives for the season are to improve, play as much as possible and perhaps win a starting spot and continue growing.”

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Noble hails West Ham win over ‘world-class’ Manchester United

West Ham captain Mark Noble says a team effort made victory over Manchester United possible on Saturday.

The Hammers pilled the pressure on Jose Mourinho with a 3-1 success at the London Stadium.

Felipe Anderson’s first West Ham strike, Viktor Lindelof’s own goal and Marko Arnautovic’s effort secured the three points for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.

Marcus Rashford did half the deficit for the visitors but they were unable to mount a comeback as West Ham secured a third win in four games having lost their opening four matches of the campaign.

“It’s a great feeling,” Noble said, according to the club’s official website. 

“It’s not only the result but also the way we played against a set of world-class players. 

“It’s a credit to the team. Our confidence is high. We really wanted to win. 

“Manchester United are fantastic, and a bit of magic from their team can change the game. 

“The way we defended was fantastic. Zabaleta was fantastic. The two centre-halves and Arthur were brilliant. Our all-round team performance was brilliant.” 

Though substitute Rashford’s goal did give United hope, the game was settled when Noble played in Arnautovic and the Austrian steered the ball past David de Gea.

Arnatovic missed last weekend’s draw with Chelsea and only returned to training on Wednesday but pulled through to play a vital role in the win.

“Marko has been injured so he’s only had a couple of full days training,” the skipper added.

“He is a fantastic football player and a player we need. For him to play like that, with a couple of days training, is incredible. 

“When you put him through like that at 2-1, you know he’s going to finish it. 

“He’s such a good footballer. To have those three up front is dangerous. 

“We saw Robert Snodgrass come on as well, and the way he works, he has so much quality. It’s a good time for the club.”

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