From the bank to the dugout: Maurizio Sarriby Chloe Beresford / 15 September 2017, 10:36Tweet
With Slaven Bilic on the brink of being fired from West Ham, this week the Daily Express ran an exclusive report which stated the Hammers would look to replace him with current Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri. It detailed a £7.5 million release clause in the tactician's contract, allowing him to move overseas once the Serie A side received full payment.
To the untrained eye, this might seem like a lucrative proposal for a Coach who has a growing reputation outside of Italy, one who may like to cut his teeth in the entirely different setting of the Premier League. For a club like West Ham, the fee is not out of the question, but for those who know Sarri, this story is over before it has even begun.
Whilst Sarri may eventually move on to bigger and better things, at the moment this stubborn, determined and focussed individual still has much to prove at Napoli. For all the high praise and attention his attractive passing style is drawing, the Coach is yet to earn any tangible success with the Partenopei.
After a Champions League exit against Real Madrid last term, Sarri finds himself up against Pep Guardiola in the group stages this time around, and the Manchester City boss has plenty of good things to say about his forthcoming opponent.
“In Italy, where the culture is defensive in the box, Napoli play 40 metres in front, a bit like Arrigo Sacchi did once [at Milan],” Guardiola told FourFourTwo. “With the ball they are fantastic. For me, they are one of the three best teams right now in Europe [at] playing football.”
High praise indeed from the world’s top tacticians, and indeed the man himself revealed how he took inspiration from the former Rossoneri Coach.
“Sacchi is basically the keystone of our football, the man whose work we all studied,” Sarri told Sky Italia.“Aside from what one might think of him, there can be no doubt he revolutionised football. He put his mark on this sport, so you can really talk of a football before and after Sacchi. If I became a Coach, I also owe it to Sacchi. Obviously then I studied further and evolved along my own path to take different avenues.”
His path to Napoli was long and deliberate, the 58-year-old was working in a bank as recently as 1990, after which time he took charge of a number of minor clubs in Tuscany, before giving up his job in the bank to work full-time for Tegoleto. The move paid off, and after taking Sansovino to Serie C2, he moved on to gain promotion to Serie C1 with Sangiovannese.
Sarri on Simeone:"Everyone thinks based on their mentality. If I didn't have an offensive mindset I would still be working at a bank"— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) May 8, 2016
He would not advance to Serie B until 2005, and it was not until 2012/13 that he took the first major step in his career. Empoli was the destination and he took the Tuscan minnows to the top flight in his very first season at the Stadio Carlo Castellani. Often pictured smoking in the dugout, this old-school Italian Coach is never one to mince his words, as his former employer confirmed.
Howe: "I visited Sarri at Empoli, I learned a great deal. It's no surprise to see him go to such big club like Napoli & do well". pic.twitter.com/bnTJje4c3P— Everything Napoli (@NaplesAndNapoli) August 6, 2017
“I chose Sarri because I remembered a madman on the benches of Sangiovannese and Sansovino,” former Empoli sporting director Marcello Carli revealed to La Gazzetta dello Sport."He was a madman who made me feel real emotion. It didn't matter if he came from a series of sackings. He's a champion, a true friend, but at least three or four times we almost came to blows. I'm talking about real punches.”
After only making reaching Serie A for the first time in 2013, success in his debut top flight campaign with Empoli alerted Napoli when they needed a replacement for Rafa Benitez. After an initial shaky start, the Coach has gone from strength to strength, ensuring even those outside of Italy have started to mention his name, not that he seems to have any interest in moving just yet.
“I’d like to leave when the project is over,” Sarri said in a post-match press conference at the end of last season. “In life you don’t know anything for certain. In this moment there’s nothing that would change this idea of mine. I don’t know what benches they are linking me to but I really don’t care. Firstly, I’d never talk to anyone without speaking to my club first. These are all stories that come from journalists so they don’t concern me.”
Meticulous, obsessive and outspoken, the “Madman” Sarri is firmly wedded to Napoli. No matter what you might read, don’t expect to see him in the Premier League any time soon.