LONDON — Maurizio Sarri has challenged Gonzalo Higuain to find his best form in the final two months of Chelsea’s season and said the striker is struggling to adapt to the demands of English football.
Higuain has scored just three goals in 10 games — two against Huddersfield Town and one against Fulham — since arriving at Chelsea on loan from Juventus in January, and has found the net only once in his last seven appearances.
Asked if Higuain has a future at Chelsea beyond this season, Sarri said: “I don’t know. I’d like to see him at the top in the last two months. At the moment, only this is very important. We need Gonzalo at the very top.
“It’s not easy to get used to this championship. The level is different; the way of playing is different. Especially for a striker, it’s very difficult to get used to the Premier League in only one, two months.”
Sarri added that Higuain has confided in him about the challenges of making the transition from Serie A to the Premier League.
“He said to me that it’s difficult because the physical impact of the defenders here is really very strong,” Sarri said. “The referees here are really very different than in Italy, so it’s another football for him.
“Especially for the striker and the goalkeeper, I think it’s really very different. So I think he needs time, but we have no time. We need him at his top level in the last two months.”
More positive for Sarri is the form of Ross Barkley. The former Everton midfielder enjoyed an impressive international break, contributing two goals and two assists for England
“He improved a lot tactically, also physically I think,” Sarri said. “As you know very 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 and he improved a lot during the season. He’s a very, very good player.
“He improved a lot in the defensive phase. Technically he was and is a very good player, and in the offensive phase, he is able to score seven, eight goals every season. Now he is a good player also in the defensive phase. He is not a defensive midfielder, of course, but he is good enough now.”