Claudio Ranieri backed Maurizio Sarri to succeed at Chelsea if he is chosen to replace Antonio Conte as head coach this summer — but warned his countryman to expect little contact with owner Roman Abramovich.
Ranieri, who managed Chelsea from 2000 to 2004 before being sacked by Abramovich to make way for Jose Mourinho, believes Sarri would not find it difficult to impose his methods and style on English football — though he admitted that managing at Stamford Bridge is not for everyone.
Asked how Sarri might fare at Chelsea, Ranieri told Sky Italia: “It depends on what Maurizio is like — he’d hardly see the president [Abramovich], he would need to work a lot and that’s something he doesn’t lack.
“Should he go to Chelsea, he’d do well there too. He’s done well at every level, even at Empoli when people were saying he wasn’t ready yet.
“Now he’s well-known all over Europe, and I’m convinced he can bring his football and his philosophy anywhere.”
Reports in Italy have also claimed that Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola could form part of Sarri’s backroom staff at Stamford Bridge, and Ranieri added that the former striker would be an intelligent hire.
“Knowing Zola very well — a truly loyal and unique person — if he were to be chosen by Sarri to help him at the beginning, he’d be the right man.”
Chelsea officials reportedly held talks with Sarri’s representatives in London on Friday, while Conte is expected to leave his post in the coming days after months of tensions with the club hierarchy over transfer policy and presiding over a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Premier League.
Carlo Ancelotti has already been announced by Napoli as the successor to Sarri, who presided over an historic Serie A title challenge this season while implementing an attacking style of football that thrilled supporters as well as neutrals all over Europe.
Liam is ESPN FC’s Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.