Sarri plays down Chelsea interest in ‘wonderful player’ Higuain

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has played down reports that he is looking to sign AC Milan striker Gonzalo Higuain in January.

The Blues had been interested in the Argentina international during the summer transfer window but missed out as Higuain joined Milan on a season-long loan from Juventus.

The former Real Madrid forward is expected to make that move permanent at the end of the campaign despite having only scored five Serie A goals for the Rossoneri thus far.

But Sarri, who worked alongside Higuain during his time in charge of Napoli, with the forward finishing as the Italian top-flight’s highest goalscorer in 2015-16 with 36 goals, may now try to tempt him away from Serie A in the next few weeks.

And though Sarri remains full of admiration for his former charge, he would not be drawn on whether he could be about to try and force a reunion with the 31-year-old.

“I like him very much, he is a wonderful player and man,” he told reporters. “But I don’t want to talk about Higuain.

“I have two and a half strikers at the moment, Higuain plays for Milan.”

Sarri’s insistence that he has “two and a half strikers” on his books initiates from Sarri’s recent experiment of playing Eden Hazard as a central striker or false nine, rather than relying on inconsistent duo Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata.

Eden Hazard Chelsea 2018-19

Victories over Manchester City and Brighton with Hazard in a more unfamiliar role have lead to some suggesting it could be a system Sarri implements more going forward, starting with Saturday’s clash against Leicester City.

And the veteran coach admitted that he is pleased with how well his team has managed the alteration in tactical approach and suggested fans have not seen the last of Hazard as a focal point.

“I was sure about City in that position we could do a good match. Against Brighton I started to see this situation in different matches.

“Now I want to see it against a team very compact, in low density. We have to see.”

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On Hazard he added: “There isn’t a best position for Hazard. He is a wonderful player, you have to let him be free on the pitch.”

While Sarri continues to utilise Hazard and plays down links to Higuain, it does seem Chelsea will be pushing to add attacking players to their squad during the winter window.

Assistant coach Gianfranco Zola admitted earlier this week that the club hold an interest in Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson while it is understood a bid for Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic is in the works.

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