Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he would be delighted to test himself against Maurizio Sarri in the Premier League next season, with the former Napoli coach tipped to take over at Chelsea.
Guardiola praised Sarri before beating Napoli twice in the Champions League last season, and he has reiterated his admiration for the Italian coach in an interview in Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, in which he has called on Sarri to bring his footballing philosophy to England.
“If he comes to England, it would be a pleasure,” Guardiola said. “For somebody like me, who loves watching games at home on the sofa, Napoli are spectacular and his brand of football is a joy to watch.
“Often a coach is judged on wins, but you’ve also got to look at the shape as well as the substance — Sarri had Empoli and Napoli playing great football, and he did a fantastic job.”
Sarri ultimately did not win a trophy last season, though, with the Azzurri eliminated from the Champions League in the group stage, knocked out of the Europa League by Leipzig in the round of 32 and finishing second behind Juventus in Serie A, despite earning 91 points, a new club record.
Sarri has been replaced at Napoli by Carlo Ancelotti for next season, but Guardiola believes he deserves more credit.
“Well, football’s about details,” he said. “Maybe if Juve had not won 2-1 at Inter, they would not have won the Scudetto.
“The Bianconeri certainly shine when it comes to assuredness in their game and they have solid club foundations which makes everything easier.
“Many coaches, like me, have had the fortune of having great players and being at great clubs which help you to win, but when it comes to judging a coach, you’ve got to see how his team plays.
“Seven titles in a row shows the strength of [Juventus]. Often, people tend to take it all for granted, but what Juve have done is incredible and often understated. Furthermore, this year they’ve won against one of the best teams in the world in Napoli, and that gives even more value to their results.”
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.