Chelsea news: Maurizio Sarri fears sack, Blues eye Javi Gracia raid | Football | Sport

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Initial thoughts were that the Italian had earned himself a second season at Stamford Bridge by securing a top-four finish ahead of the European final against Arsenal later this month.

However, sources in Italy say that he believes Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich may still consider ending his tenure after a season which descended at times into turmoil and unrest.

Kepa Arrizabalaga’s Carabao Cup mutiny – when he refused to be substituted before a penalty shoot-out which Chelsea subsequently lost to Manchester City – is still seen in the Stamford Bridge board room as an example of Sarri’s weakness.

Moreover, the manner in which he shrugged off Chelsea’s recent yo-yo form in terms of final league position has startled a hierarchy which brought him in specifically to solve the problem.

Instead of sorting the issue, his pragmatic approach further alienated supporters who quickly lost patience with his negative brand of “Sarri-ball”.

The season has not diminished his popularity in his native country, however, and Roma are most keen, having appointed Claudio Ranieri in March until the end of the current campaign.

Sarri, 60, still has two years left on his contract and the recent decision by FIFA to turn down Chelsea’s appeal against a transfer ban may persuade Abramovich that top-quality replacements may be deterred from coming to a club where there is no scope to bring in fresh blood.

Otherwise Watford manager Javi Gracia is under serious consideration, after impressing the Chelsea board with his dressing-room management style and willingness to work within a club where recruitment is out of his direct hands.

Gracia has led Watford to a 14th and 11th-place finishes in the Premier League since being handed the reins at Vicarage Road in January 2018.

The Spaniard has the opportunity to win his first major piece of silverware as a manager when the Hornets face City in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

Gracia is under contract at Watford until 2023 so a compensation fee would be required if Chelsea were to prise him away.

The 49-year-old this week revealed he is keen on one day returning to his homeland, saying: “I’ll go back to Spain, that’s 100 per cent.

“I do not know when, because I have a long contract here. You never know what’s going to happen, but I’ll come back. Although right now I don’t even think about it.

“I like to enjoy my profession and I believe that here, on a daily basis, I have very good conditions to do it.

“Five fields at my disposal, a training centre, very private, very welcoming, with many possibilities and I also have a team with which to compete in the Premier League.

“On a professional level it is a challenge and also a very nice opportunity to develop my profession.

“Apart from this, I believe that the living conditions are good, my family is comfortable, my children also. Those are the most important things.”

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