Maurizio Sarri Says He Could Retire After Stint at Juventus

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2020

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri looks on before the Italian Cup soccer match between Juventus and Udinese, at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (Fabio Ferrari/LaPress via AP)
Fabio Ferrari/Associated Press

Maurizio Sarri could walk away from management permanently after his time with Juventus is up. The 61-year-old, who had a spell with Napoli before winning the UEFA Europa League with Chelsea last season and taking over at Juve in the summer, has hinted at retirement.

Ahead of leading the Bianconeri against his former team Napoli on Sunday, Sarri said, per Football Italia: "After this experience, I could even retire. We’ll see how much energy I have left by the end of it."

However, while he sounded cold on the idea of carrying on beyond his stint in Turin, Sarri did leave the door open for another job: "Pressure is not really an issue, it's about what someone expects from themselves. If you focus on the circus, then you're done for. I don't know how I'll feel when my contract expires in two years. I might even continue and it'd be a bad idea."

Sarri, who signed a three-year contract with Juve, said he's "not thinking" about returning to Naples as manager. He guided Napoli to second in Serie A during the 2017/18 season while playing an entertaining brand of possession-based football dubbed by many as 'Sarriball.'

His performances with the Partenopei were parlayed into taking the Chelsea job in 2018. Beating Arsenal 4-1 in last season's Europa League final brought Sarri the first major trophy of his career, but a return to Italy to take charge of Serie A's dominant force proved too good to resist.

Keeping Juve at the summit of the top flight has been Sarri's remit, and so far he has the Bianconeri four points ahead of nearest rivals Inter Milan.

The main focus has been establishing a cordial working relationship with star forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Things have appeared strained between the pair at times, with Ronaldo visibly angry when substituted during consecutive games back in November.

However, player and manager have since formed a bond, and Ronaldo has been excelling under Sarri, scoring six goals in his last three league matches:

By contrast, Napoli are 12th in the table and have already replaced Carlo Ancelotti with Gennaro Gattuso in the dugout.

Sarri still has respect for his former squad, though, and isn't being fooled by the club's current mediocre standing: "I expect a difficult game, as Napoli are a strong team. Their current position in the table is strange, because they are the best in many aspects. Looking at the statistics, one feels they are destined to climb back up pretty quickly."

There is no denying the quality Napoli boast in forward areas, where Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik can all be match-winners. Meanwhile, centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly remains a rock defensively.

Despite the talent at Gattuso's disposal, Juve should still be too strong for Napoli. Sarri's group may undergo a slight change, with the idea of a swap involving full-back Mattia De Sciglio joining Paris Saint-Germain while Layvin Kurzawa goes the other way.

Sarri said he remains in the dark about the potential deal: "I don't know. The director told me this is an idea."

Juve's strength in depth, regularly supplemented by smart recruitment, means Sarri has a great chance to end his career on a silverware-laden high should he choose to walk away in 2022.

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