Chelsea may need three months to reach potential, says Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri
Maurizio Sarri succeeded Antonio Conte as Chelsea boss this summer

New boss Maurizio Sarri has warned it could take three months before Chelsea are able to perform to their potential.

The Italian believes his inability to work with some of his players following their involvement at this summer's World Cup has hampered him.

"I am very happy I can work with all my players for the first time tomorrow [Wednesday]," said Sarri after the Blues' penalty shootout win over Lyon.

"Potentially we can become, in two or three months, a very good team."

Chelsea are away at Huddersfield in their opening Premier League game on Saturday.

When asked if the game had come too early, Sarri - who succeeded Antonio Conte as Blues boss this summer - replied: "Yes I think so, especially for all of them."

Sarri started with a largely second-string side for Tuesday's pre-season International Champions Cup game, although it did include some players who featured in the World Cup, including Brazil's Willian, England's Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nigeria's Victor Moses.

Belgian Eden Hazard and France's Olivier Giroud and N'Golo Kante - the three Chelsea squad members who played regularly for countries who reached the later stages in Russia - were second-half substitutes.

It was Hazard who scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out after another substitute, 38-year-old keeper Rob Green, had saved Lyon's fifth and final penalty, from Pape Cheikh Diop.

It was somewhat apt that Green - who replaced Polish teenager Marcin Bulka late in the game - would be the hero in a week that has focused the spotlight on goalkeepers at Stamford Bridge.

In the two days prior to the game, the unsettled Thibaut Courtois missed training, seemingly to try to force a move away from the club, and on Tuesday evening it emerged the club had agreed a world-record £71m fee with Athletic Bilbao for Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Sarri revealed he did not know anything about the situations involving Courtois or Arrizabalaga, but added about the latter: "I saw him one year ago. My first impression was that he is a very good goalkeeper. Very young, but very, very good."

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