- Chelsea FC’s manager Maurizio Sarri kicked his hat and stormed out of a training session in a huff.
- The move followed a wild and chaotic scene as two of his players, David Luiz and Gonzalo Higuain, almost came to blows in the middle of a practise match.
- The incident happened on Tuesday, just one day before the club’s match against London rival Arsenal FC in the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday.
- The club has denied that Sarri’s anger had anything to do with his players.
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Maurizio Sarri stormed off the pitch in a huff after two of his Chelsea FC players almost came to blows in a wild and chaotic training session on Tuesday.
The practise was open to the press and designed to help generate media and fan interest in the club’s anticipated UEFA Europa League final against Arsenal at the Baku Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan on Wednesday.
But Chelsea’s session was hardly optimal preparation as tempers flared in the middle of an all-Chelsea warm-up match.
It all began when the Chelsea striker Gonzalo Higuain attempted to retrieve the ball from the defender David Luiz.
In an effort to ward off Higuain, Luiz appeared to stick the tip of his elbow out. It almost caught Higuain in the face, if not making direct contact. Higuain was then seen on camera remonstrating with Luiz, who seemed unfazed.
Sarri, angered, then went apopletic by the touchline. He threw his Chelsea-branded cap on the ground in disgust, kicked it for good measure, then disappeared down the tunnel for good.
Watch it here:
Tempers fraying in the Chelsea camp? ????
Higuain and Luiz come together in training and Maurizio Sarri is furious! pic.twitter.com/obSZ51KGGd
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 28, 2019
An official statement from Chelsea denied that Sarri’s actions had anything to do with Luiz or Higuain.
“Maurizio’s frustration displayed at the end of training was not related to any of his players,” the statement said, according to BT Sport.
UEFA rules that a team’s final session ahead of a European final be open to observers, much to Sarri’s alleged chagrin, as the club added that the manager’s actions were because he was “not able to practise set-plays in the final 15 minutes of the hour-long training session as it remained open to the media.”
This is not the only factor that appears to be stunting Chelsea’s preparations ahead of its crucial clash against London rival Arsenal in the tournament final.
There’s also concern over an injury for influential defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante, who did not take part in the entire training session and was limited to “half an hour of gentle running with a physio,” The Guardian reports. The Guardian also quoted Sarri saying that Kante’s involvement in Wednesday’s match is only “50-50.”
Then there’s the ambiguous future of the attacking midfielder Eden Hazard, a player who has scored 16 and created 15 goals for Chelsea in the Premier League this season, but has been linked with a high-profile summer move to Real Madrid. Wednesday’s match could therefore be Hazard’s last for the club, if the transfer rumours are true.
Sarri himself may also be thinking about moving away from the club.
He has been under immense pressure to deliver success to West London, and may welcome a move to managerless Juventus FC. Sarri admitted that he loves England and the Premier League, but also reportedly said he has “to consider the future,” according to The Guardian.
The Europa League final kicks off at 8 p.m. BST, or 3 p.m. ET.
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