LONDON — Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has said he does not want to sign a midfield alternative to Jorginho but would like to make Mateo Kovacic’s loan from Real Madrid permanent.
Since the January sale of Cesc Fabregas, the coach said Kovacic is the only other player in his squad capable of filling in at the base of midfield.
“You know very well that, in that position, we have some problems because we have only Jorginho,” Sarri, whose side face West Ham at home on Monday, told a news conference.
“In my opinion, Kovacic could become a very good central midfielder.
“Of course he is not a defensive midfielder but, as you know, in that position I prefer a very technical player. For us it’s very important for us to have big quality in that position. Big quality not for the last pass, but big quality in terms of moving the ball.”
Asked whether he would like to see Chelsea sign someone else to play the role, Sarri said: “No, I want to try with Kovacic. He is only on loan, of course. I’d like very much that Kovacic will stay with us.”
Sarri praised former Chelsea academy player Declan Rice, who has starred at the base of West Ham’s midfield and made his first England appearance last month.
“I think he’s a very good player, very good in the defensive phase because he’s very able to recover the ball,” Sarri said.
“He usually plays very close to the defensive line and, in the first match against West Ham, he was really a very big problem for us.”
Chelsea face three matches in six days, with games against West Ham and Liverpool either side of a trip to Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarterfinals, and Sarri said he felt the Premier League could have been more flexible with their scheduling of fixtures.
“I am not able to understand the decision of the Premier League because we have to go to Prague as an English team,” he said. “So I’m not able to understand why we have to play on Monday. It’s very strange.
“I think they could have done more for the English teams in Europe. In Serie A, teams play on Friday. Teams involved in the Europa League away from home, they can ask to play their next Serie A match on Monday.
“So we need to have very strong players. But the Premier League was able to sell in the best way possible the Premier League [TV rights], so in England we are lucky.
“We can buy the best players in the world, and so we have to accept we have to play every three days.”