By Neil Robinson
LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri said he only wanted players “with a very high level of motivation” amid continuing uncertainty about the future of several members of his new team.
The Italian said he would talk to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois next week after the Belgian’s agent Christophe Henrotay was quoted as saying his client was keen to leave Stamford Bridge, with Real Madrid touted as a possible destination during the transfer window, which closes on Thursday.
“I have no reaction to the agent, I am not interested,” said Sarri after suffering his first competitive loss as Chelsea manager in the 2-0 Community Shield defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.
Courtois did not play in the game, with deputy Willy Caballero experiencing a busy afternoon against an incisive City attack.
“I want to hear from Courtois tomorrow. I want only players with very high level of motivation,” said Sarri, who has replaced Antonio Conte in charge.
Sarri admitted there was “a little difference, maybe a lot” between the two teams at Wembley but said he had had little time to work with the players, many of whom were given extended holiday after the World Cup.
Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante also missed Sunday’s game after their World Cup efforts, with Willian coming on only as a substitute.
The new manager has promised to put the fun back into Chelsea’s football but on Sunday’s evidence he has serious thinking to do first, and he vowed that everyone would work hard to ensure they were ready for the Premier League.
However, with Chelsea’s first game at Arsenal only a week away, he admitted he could not say how long it would take for the players to adjust to his methods.
“I don’t know. I arrived here three weeks ago and have only seen six players,” he said. “It is so very difficult. We have the idea to press, but sometimes they did not do it in the right way. We have the idea of being in control but today we were not.”
(Reporting by Neil Robinson; editing by Clare Fallon)