The Blues boss admitted to his striker’s struggles and has called on him to finally get to grips with his new surroundings
Maurizio Sarri has called on Gonzalo Higuain to start firing for Chelsea, as he admits that his side’s goals can be undermined by the 31-year-old’s inability to adapt to English football.
The forward recently announced his retirement from Argentina’s international duty to focus on club football, but he has so far only managed to net three goals in his 10 appearances in English football.
His goals have come against Huddersfield Town and Fulham, as the Blues face another relegation candidate in Cardiff City on Sunday afternoon.
Sarri thinks Higuain needs to get back to his best before it’s too late, as he aims to convince Chelsea to take up £32 million ($42m) clause to make his loan move permanent.
“I would like to see him at the top in the last two months,” Sarri told reporters. “At the moment, only this is really important. We need Gonzalo at the top. It is not easy, I think, to get used to this championship.
“The level is different. The way of playing is different. I think especially for a striker it is very difficult to get used to the Premier League in just one or two months. He said to me that it is difficult because the physical impact of the defenders here is really very strong.
“The referees here are really very different than in Italy, and so it is another football for him and especially for a striker or goalkeeper. It is really very different, so he needs time, but we have no time. We need him to get to his top level in these last two months.”
Meanwhile, as Higuain leaves international football, Ross Barkley is making a positive impact in a competitive England squad under Gareth Southgate.
Two positive performances and two goals for England in their bid to qualify for Euro 2020 have seen Barkley re-establish himself for the Three Lions, after being left out of the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
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Sarri thinks Barkley has added to his game this season but doesn’t think he will ever establish leadership qualities in his role as a central midfielder.
“Probably he is not a leader in that way,” Sarri added. “He is not able to lead the other players. He is a fighter. He is able to fight in every match. I think it is a question of personality. Sometimes you have a very young player with a very high level of personality.
“Sometimes they don’t. It is not easy to change. It is an individual characteristic, I think. He has improved a lot tactically. Also, physically, I think. As you know well in the last season he played only 200 minutes, so he needed to stay on the pitch.
“Fortunately, now he is going very well with his leg and he improved a lot during the season — a very, very good player. I think that he improved a lot in the defensive phase because technically he was, and he is, a very good player.
“In the offensive phase, he can score seven or eight goals every season. Now I think he is also a good player in the defensive phase. He is not a defensive midfielder, of course, but he is good enough now.
“Of course, at the beginning of the season, he didn’t have big confidence because last season was really very hard for him. Then after three or four or five matches in the starting eleven, he changed. Now he is a very important player for us.”
Sarri is worried that several of his players have returned from international duty tired, with Jorginho doubtful for Sunday’s clash after joining up with Italy.
However, he himself tried to unwind but admits he failed to do so, as he remains under pressure to secure some positive results at the end of this season to qualify for the Champions League.
“I hope so, but my feeling is the same. When there is a match or whether there is training. For me, everything is very important. So I want to stay at the same level in my mind for eleven months. No, [I don’t switch off], but I tried.
“I worked during the break. I watched our matches, our last five or six matches. I saw future opponents. So I tried to work in the same way.
“I know very well that in my job you are always alone. Here, in Naples, in Empoli and everywhere you depend on the results. For me, it is normal to have the feeling of being alone. Not for just me, but for every coach.
“You are with others only when you win. When you lose, you are alone. It is fine.”