LONDON — Maurizio Sarri has said Chelsea can become a better team next season even if they are barred from registering new players this summer.
Chelsea’s appeal against the two-window transfer ban handed down by FIFA in February is set to be heard by the governing body’s Appeal Committee on April 11, while the club also reserve the right to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if the ruling is upheld.
The club hope they will be able to get the punishment delayed, reduced or overturned to allow them to trade freely this summer, but even if he is unable to make new signings, Sarri is optimistic that the progress of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek can keep Chelsea moving forward.
Asked if the looming transfer ban makes preparing for next season harder, Sarri said: “No, because I’m really very confident in my players. We have a lot of young players who are really good and improving.
“If they are able to improve, we will probably be a better team in the future. So I’m not worried about the market. I am confident in my players.”
Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek both impressed in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Brighton on Wednesday, but Sarri warned fans hoping to see both in action again when West Ham visit Stamford Bridge on Monday that he will need to lean on his squad if he is to succeed in the Premier League and Europa League.
“I have to consider that, in this moment of the season, we need to change,” he added. “We played 51 matches and then because, in the last part of the season, I want 20 players completely involved in our targets.”
Pressed specifically on whether Hudson-Odoi will keep his place, Sarri said: “I don’t know. I have to decide who is going to play against West Ham and who is going to play Slavia [Prague on Thursday].”
Sarri’s rotation policy is likely to hand further chances to several players who have struggled to find form in recent weeks — most notably Gonzalo Higuain, who has scored just three goals in 11 appearances since arriving on a lucrative loan deal from Juventus in January.
Higuain is running out of time to convince Chelsea to extend his loan for another season or sign him permanently, but Sarri is adamant that the Argentine will have a big role to play in the final stretch of the season.
“I think he needs time to improve his physical condition and time to be suitable for the Premier League,” Sarri said. “I think he is able to do it.
“Then, at the same time, we are lucky because we have [Olivier] Giroud. At the moment he’s in a very good mental and physical condition. We have to play every three days, so we need both.”