Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri opens up on surprise friendship with Bournemouth's Eddie Howe

The pair became good friends when Howe decided to visit Sarri, then in charge of Empoli, just after guiding his side to the Premier League four years ago

Chelsea Manager Maurizio Sarri says he's really happy with Ruben Loftus Cheek ahead of their Premier League clash against Bournemouth

Maurizio Sarri has told of his special relationship with Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe and believes he will become an important figure in English football.

The pair became good friends when Howe decided to visit Sarri, then in charge of Empoli, just after guiding his side to the Premier League four years ago.

“Eddie came in Empoli for three or four days, and we stayed in Empoli together for three or four days,” said Sarri ahead of Chelsea’s Saturday game with Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge. “Last season with Napoli we went to Bournemouth for a friendly match, so we stayed together for three or four days.

“I know him very well. He is a very interesting young coach. I think he will make a mark in the English football in the future.

“They are very dangerous opponents for us, I think, because they are well organised, they are dangerous in counter-attacks, so I think the match will be very difficult for us. But I think that we want to be in control of the match. We want to try to gain points.”

Howe has already been a manager for 10 years despite only being 40 while at the same age Sarri was in charge of amateur side, Tegoleto.

“Eddie did not need to learn from me! He told me he was studying all the little clubs in Italy and France at the time, in that period, and he was impressed with Empoli.

“Yes, I was surprised. I knew that Bournemouth, in this period, were winning the Championship. I didn't know him or the players, but I knew the situation.

“At 40, I was in a non-professional team, in Italy's Serie D. I'm not surprised that Eddie has got to where he has, because he's very clever and very intelligent. So I'm not surprised. I think he is ready. He is 40, but he is ready. Probably, when I was 40, I wasn't ready.

Sarri is a huge fan of Howe

“We stay in touch sometimes, not very often, but sometimes. Some messages.”

Sarri knows all about the size of Chelsea’s task against Bournemouth with Howe’s side winning 3-0 on their last visit to Stamford Bridge back in January.

“I didn't see the match but they are a dangerous team,” he said. “In the defensive phase, they are very organised. If they have the possibility to have space, they are very dangerous on the counter-attack.

“They attack the space very well in the right time, so they are very dangerous. If you don't play very well, with a high level of attention, it's easy to lose games against them.”

Meanwhile Sarri has refused to name a permanent Chelsea captain but says that will happen after the international break.

Sarri is yet to decide upon a permanent skipper

Cesar Azpilicueta has worn the armband but Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard are also options for the Stamford Bridge side.

“Nothing decided at the moment, I want to decide during the international break for the final one,” said Sarri.

The Italian has set his sights on winning the Europa League after Chelsea were placed in a group alongside AOK Salonika, BATE Borisov and Vidi.

“I want to win everything, if I can,” he said. “I want to win everything. For me, it's a pleasure to play in Europe. It's a pleasure to play in the Europa League. It's one of our targets.”

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