Maurizio Sarri says Lazio aim for a top four finish and insists the management of Luis Alberto is down to the club.
Sarri, a former Napoli, Chelsea and Juventus, coach, signed a two-year deal with the Biancocelesti and was unveiled at a press conference on Friday.
“They club had offered me a four-year contract, but I opted for a shorter deal because of my age. I want to be sure that I will have the same strength in two years, if that will be the case, then I can extend my stay here,” the 62-year-old said.
“I am here for two reasons, the first one is a personal reason because Lazio are allowing me to bring out my best characteristics.
“The second reason is a technical reason. Although we are missing something to make what I like, I think there are the conditions to do well,” he continued.
“I’d like to see a team with a spirit of sacrifice during the week, I want to see a group that is eager to dominate games.
“We’ll start with a 4-3-3 system, but that can evolve and change. I’ve often changed systems during my career.
“We are at the beginning of a path, this season will be more difficult than the next ones. You know our target is. That’s the same as other mid-table clubs, a target that makes the difference in economic terms.”
The Rome derby between him and José Mourinho is already one of the most awaited events of the season.
“I don’t see a great dualism, I’ve known him, he is a nice person and I like him, he’s won more than me but it means nothing,” Sarri said.
Has he already discussed the transfer market?
“We have a list of players and we need some new signings to play with a different system than the one used in the past. We haven’t discussed names, but characteristics. It will be a difficult transfer window for everybody.
“I’d like to begin the pre-season with 24 players tomorrow, but I know it’s not possible. It’s difficult to know how long it will take to build a new identity.
“I had managed two points in the opening three games at Napoli. We had a strong start at Chelsea, while at Juventus it was more difficult even if in the end we won the title.”
Meantime, the Biancocelesti have already secured the services of Elseid Hysaj and Felipe Anderson.
“If I hadn’t believed in Felipe, I would have stood against his signing,” the former Chelsea coach said.
“When he was at Lazio, he played very well for 6-7 months and seemed destined to join Barcelona. He’s lacked consistency, but we need to create the best situation for him.
“I don’t understand why he’s not been consistent during his career, I’ll try to understand it when he arrives here.”
Luis Alberto didn’t show up for the pre-season medical tests yesterday and the club have fined him. How will he handle the situation?
“He hasn’t joined the team, so there is a problem in terms of management for the club. I am waiting for him to explain to his teammates and me why he did that. If he does it, there will be no more problem,” Sarri replied.
Ciro Immobile has been criticised for his performances at the Euros, what does he make of the Italy striker?
“If Mancini starts him in every game, it means he is happy. I think he is helping the team, he is missing the goals and I hope he scores in the most important one. I am not worried about him.”
Why does Sarri not use social media?
“It’s an evolution of modern society that brought a worsening of social relationships. For me it’s not easy to speak on the phone, I like to talk to people face to face.
“I don’t fear the pressure. I don’t think there was less pressure at Napoli, Chelsea or Juventus. I hope stadiums will be full next season, right now, I really want to return to coaching.”
Can Lazio be title contenders like in 2019, when Sarri was in charge of Juventus?
“I’ve read many times that Lazio would have won the title without lockdown. The truth is, Juventus were always the table leader, but Lazio were the most dangerous opponent that season.
“I don’t think Lazio have physical problems. A lot depends on the fixture list, which could change in the future.
“I expect anything from UEFA. This year, they’ve organised a European Championship with 24 teams. Now, I expect FIFA to organise a World Cup with 50 teams, they could do anything. The Euro qualifiers lasted two years and that was just to eliminate smaller teams.
“It is crucial to reduce the number of games during the season, otherwise, it’s tough.”
Is the Europa League a target for the Biancocelesti?
“You must always give your best in Europe, it’s wrong to underestimate it. Then, we need a deep squad because the Europa League is a challenging competition, when I was at Chelsea I used to rotate six or seven players from one match to another.”
Is Manuel Lazzari going to stay?
“I spoke to him this morning and he seems willing to start a new chapter as a full-back. I think he has the right characteristics, he just need to learn some defensive movements.”
Joaquin Correa has been linked with a move away from Lazio, what has the future in store for him?
“He could play as a left striker if he wants to do so. I know the player has expressed his desire to leave, I’d be happy if he changes his mind when he returns from the Copa America.”