London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will not be able to call on Gonzalo Higuain for Saturday’s visit to Arsenal but said his focus was already on the game and not moves in the transfer market.
Higuain is expected to complete a loan move from Juventus but no deal was announced before the midday deadline on Friday for the Argentine striker to be registered to enable him to feature at the Emirates.
Sarri previously coached Higuain at Napoli when he scored a Serie A record 36 goals in a league campaign in 2015/16.
That sort of firepower is what Chelsea have been badly missing in recent months, with Sarri’s lack of confidence in Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud forcing Eden Hazard into an unfamiliar centre-forward role.
Sarri said he had made the club’s director and chief transfer negotiator Marina Granovskaia aware of what his side needed.
“I spoke with Marina two weeks ago, so Marina knows very well my opinion how to improve the team,” said Sarri.
“Then I decide to be focused on the pitch, on matches, on training.
“I don’t call her every evening, otherwise I spend all my mental energy on the market and I think it’s better if I spend all my mental energies on the pitch.”
Morata, who joined Chelsea from Real Madrid for £60 million ($77 million) in July 2017, has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid but Sarri didn’t rule out the possibility that the Spain striker could face Arsenal.
“For him I think it’s a very difficult moment, but it’s normal for a player in January to be in the market,” said Sarri, who omitted Morata from his squad for last week’s win over Newcastle.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been linked with a big-money move to Bayern Munich, but Sarri’s discussions with the 18-year-old winger have focused on footballing performances.
“I don’t want to talk with him about something that I cannot resolve,” Sarri said. “Mentally he’s in a very positive moment. On the pitch we are really very happy with him. He’s improving a lot in the last two months.”
Chelsea start the weekend in fourth place and victory at the Emirates Stadium would see them go nine points clear of Arsenal, currently fifth, in the race for Champions League qualification.
“This match for us is a risk and an opportunity,” Sarri said. “They’re really a very good team. (In) the offensive phase they are one of the best teams in the Premier League.
“We can be dangerous against these opponents, but we have to stay on the match. We have to defend with a very high level of application and attention for 95 minutes.”
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