Former Chelsea assistant manager Gianfranco Zola says the west London side made a mistake by allowing Maurizio Sarri to leave the club.
Sarri left Chelsea for Juventus where he signed a three-year deal while the Blues replaced the Italian with their legend Frank Lampard who left championship side Derby County. The arrival of Lampard saw Zola dismissed as the assistant with the new boss deciding not to keep 53-year-old in his backroom staff.
Sarri helped the Blues to a third-place finish in the Premier League while winning the Europa League in his first season but did not seem enough for him to keep his role. The Italian had to leave and join Serie A giants Juventus.
“Yes, very much,” said Zola when asked if he would have liked to have stayed at Chelsea.
“I think the best of Maurizio’s work comes not in the first year but more from the second year onwards. Looking at the way he works, it takes a little bit of time to put in place what he wants to do and also he is very demanding on the players. But, after the players get used to it, they get better and better and the work becomes more effective.”
“It’s a pity because I think it would have been good for the club if Maurizio stayed and it would have been good for Maurizio as well.”
Zola also admitted his departure from Chelsea, a club he spent seven years at as a player, was ‘painful’.
“Obviously it’s painful because you’re in a place where you like to be and it means a lot to you. Of course, it’s always painful, but we have to be professional and I think Chelsea are looking forward, they made other choices and I respect them, I have no problem with that.”