Maurizio Sarri had words of praise for Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s tactical improvement and claimed Gonzalo Higuain needed patience to adapt to the Premier League as the manager looked ahead to Monday night’s London derby against West Ham in his pre-match press conference.
The boss reflected on the impact of Loftus-Cheek when asked about his England midfielder, who scored his second goal in four days in our 3-0 midweek win over Brighton
‘He has improved a lot, especially tactically,’ he told the media at Cobham. ‘At the beginning of the season he was a very offensive midfielder but now he is a very good tactical midfielder. He is now complete I think.’
Sarri was then asked whether the 23-year-old would start consecutive Premier League games for the first time this season
‘We need to check every day the condition of his back. This morning he had only a recovery session because he needs time after playing a match. It’s a problem of course and probably he is not able to play for 90 minutes but I think our doctor is able to take control of this situation.’
The manager admitted it was important to give time to Higuain as the Argentinian looked to adjust to the differing demands of English football
‘He has to improve physically and mentally but I think he will be very important in the last part of the season. It is not easy when you play the first months in the Premier League so he needs time to improve his condition and to be suitable for the league.
‘It is tough for a striker to play immediately well in the Premier League. There was a problem for Luis Suarez at Liverpool [when he first signed] because he scored only three goals but then in his second season he scored 23.’
Sarri was asked if that need for patience would convince him to extend the striker’s loan into next season
‘Of course we would like to keep him for next season but it depends on the club and also Juventus so it’s not clear at the moment. We are lucky because we have Olivier Giroud as well in a very good physical and mental condition. We have to play every three days so we need both of them.’