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How Chelsea could line-up under football genius Maurizio Sarri in 2018/19

Rugani? Higuain? Hazard?

Chelsea could well be the most entertaining team in the league this coming season.

With Maurizio Sarri at the helm, free-flowing football will be the first objective.

The chain-smoking gaffer’s Napoli side became the European football hipster’s team of choice last season after a succession of mesmeric team goals.

And he’ll be hoping to make west London the new home of hypnotic virals once the new Premier League season gets underway.

New era

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New era

The philosophy is established — but who will be tasked with putting it into practice on a weekly basis?

Here’s how Chelsea could line-up for the majority of the 2018/19 campaign…

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GOALKEEPER

Thibaut Courtois is one of a number of key players whose future has been in doubt for a while now.

An impressive World Cup has reignited Real Madrid’s interest but if Sarri instils a renewed sense of purpose then the lanky Belgian may be persuaded to stay put.


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Stock risen

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Stock risen

DEFENCE

Sarri prefers a flat back four, which could put an end to the 3-4-3 formation Chelsea have grown accustomed to in recent times.

We could see Cesar Azpilicueta return to right-back, although Antoinio Rudiger could also fulfil that role.

The German defender deputised for Alessandro Florenzi during his Roma days and Sarri would have noted his impressive stint as a full-back.

Incoming?

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Incoming?

Daniele Rugani is expected to sign from Juventus and may displace Andreas Christensen in the preferred XI.

The talented Danish defender will put pressure on the first-choice centre-backs while the more experienced duo of David Luiz and Gary Cahill may be starved of game time.

Marcos Alonso has been a key figure for the Blues since signing in 2016 but Sarri’s Italian bias may see Emerson Palmieri slot in at left-back.

The 27-year-old Spaniard has been somewhat exposed when asked to play as a full-back rather than a wing-back with greater license to attack.

Benchwarmer?

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Benchwarmer?

MIDFIELD 

Sarri shares Pep Guardiola’s love of possession and metronomic passing — hence the signing of Jorginho.

The Brazilian-born Italian completed more passes than any other player in Serie A last season and Sarri will ask him to occupy a similar role this campaign.

At this stage, N’Golo Kante is the first name on the teamsheet.

The World Cup winning midfielder is the best in the world at what he does and his noticeable improvement in possession since joining Chelsea will be helpful in implementing Sarri’s grand plan.

Keep count if you can…

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Keep count if you can…

If the gossip columns are to be believed, Aleksandr Golovin is London-bound.

The 22-year-old Russian midfielder may be asked to play the Marek Hamsik role in Sarri’s set-up.

Golovin’s technical ability and creativity will help link the the midfield to a potentially rampant front three…

One of the World Cup’s brightest stars

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One of the World Cup’s brightest stars

ATTACK

Eden Hazard is one of the most-wanted players in world football.

The Belgian dribbler has been reluctant to commit himself to Chelsea but Sarri will surely be desperate to hang on to the world-class No10.

Many have tipped Willian for move away from Stamford Bridge too, but the pair of wide forwards would be perfectly suited to Sarri’s system.

At Napoli, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon’s fluidity and dribbling skills were key to carving open defences.

Sarri would surely love to replicate this with Hazard and Willian.

Game-changer

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Game-changer

Pedro also fits Sarri’s preferred forward profile and the 30-year-old may find himself back in favour at Chelsea.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest transfer may force Gonzalo Higuain away from Turin and Sarri would love to be reunited with the centre-forward who was so prolific under his guidance in Naples.

Old friends

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Old friends

In Higuain and Dries Mertens, Sarri has often relied on a successful centre-forward.

He may feel that Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud are not clinical enough to lead the line for his Chelsea side.

The pair are excellent headers of the ball but Sarri generally prefers his teams to keep the ball on the deck.

Only time will tell what Chelsea turns up next month.

But one thing’s for sure, it won’t be boring.


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