Sarri: ‘Ronaldo’s management is not simple, Jorginho a Ballon d’Or candidate’

Maurizio Sarri

Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri said Jorginho should be a candidate for the Ballon d’Or ‘if he wins the European Championship’ and opened up about his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus.

Jorginho has impressed with Chelsea and Italy this year, winning the Champions League at club level and helping the Azzurri to the semi-finals of EURO 2020.

Ahead of Tuesday’s match against Spain, his former coach at both Napoli and Chelsea praised the Brazilian-born midfielder.

“If he wins the European Championship, he is a candidate for the Ballon d’Or,” Sarri told SportItalia. “He’s a refined player and that’s why everyone doesn’t understand him.

“He makes everything seem easy, it’s his greatness. When I went to Chelsea, we managed to snatch him from Manchester City.

“At first it was hard to understand him, the fans, the journalist, now I see that he is appreciated. He was also the captain of Chelsea.”

The former Napoli coach spoke to the press for the first time since accepting the role at Lazio, as he signed a two-year deal to replace Simone Inzaghi at the Olimpico.

Official: Sarri is new Lazio coach

Sarri also spoke about his year off and his time at Juventus.

The 62-year-old signed a three-year deal with the Bianconeri in 2019 and won the Serie A title before being sacked after just one season in Turin.

Sarri was fired the day after facing Champions League elimination at the hands of Lyon. However, he remained under contract with the Old Lady until June 2021, when the Serie A giants activated their €2m clause to rescind the coach’s contract one year before its expiration.

“In these 332 days without speaking, I have been with my family. I have read a lot, I have watched many games. And I have watched many cycling races, one of the things I like the most,” Sarri said.

“I come from a family of cyclists, it’s a family passion. It’s been a very special year; it didn’t bother me so much to be out. The situation didn’t make me want to come back.”

Sarri felt his Scudetto with Juventus was ‘taken for granted’ and said the Bianconeri ‘didn’t even celebrate’ winning the ninth consecutive Serie A title.

“The Scudetto was taken for granted at Juventus, both on the outside and on the inside,” Sarri claimed. “We didn’t even celebrate; everyone went to dinner on their own.

“Probably the best year to go to Juventus was this, the fourth place was celebrated. In football, victory is not a foregone conclusion. Sometimes you work hard and you can’t win.

“Football this year, with the empty stadiums, didn’t excite me. It was not a heavy year, I didn’t struggle being out. Now that the fans are back, the desire has regained the upper hand.”

Sarri revealed he never considered returning to Napoli in the middle of the season and was only prepared to return to coaching from the summer.

“I didn’t consider returning to Napoli because I was not sure if I would be useful in the middle of the season,” he said. “And there were no conditions.

“I would have been available for Napoli in the summer. In January they looked for me, but there was no real negotiation.

“There was only an interest. To all the clubs that asked about me, I said the same thing: ‘Not in the middle of the season, but if you want me, I’m here’.”

Sarri explained he had a difficult experience managing Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus and feels people are more focused ‘on players and little about teams’.

His relationship with CR7 was a matter of debate during Sarri’s reign at the Allianz Stadium.

The Portuguese star was replaced twice by the Tuscan tactician and once, in the home game against Milan, he stormed off the pitch, showing his discontent for the coach’s decision.

Ronaldo’s management is not simple, from all points of view,” Sarri added. “He’s a multinational company, he has personal interests that must coincide with football.

“His interests go beyond normalcy, beyond the team or club. I’m a coach, not a manager. Ronaldo, however, brings the numbers at the end of the year. But in recent years, I hear a lot about players and little about teams.”

Sarri praised Argentine Paulo Dybala, who was voted the MVP of Serie A during his year at the Bianconeri but struggled to keep up the good performances the following season due to injuries.

“He’s a champion, he’s not difficult to recover,” Sarri said. “He has lived a strange year, he had many injuries, but a player of his quality is easy to recover.

“For Juve, the time has come to decide. Either they go with him or sell.”

The former Chelsea coach praised Roberto De Zerbi’s decision to join Shakhtar Donetsk after another successful year with Sassuolo and claimed the 42-year-old is ‘the new Sarri’.

“He did well to go to Shakhtar, it gives him an international stage,” Sarri continued. “It’s a pity not to see him in Italy, it’s a pity that no clubs went for him. He’s the new Sarri.”