Chelsea Appoints Ninth Head Coach in 15 Years

(Bloomberg) -- Chelsea Football Club has appointed 59-year-old Maurizio Sarri as its new head coach following the departure of Antonio Conte after only two years.

Sarri is the Premier League club’s ninth coach in 15 years under the ownership of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. He coached Italy’s Napoli for the past three years.

“Maurizio’s Napoli side played some of the most exciting football in Europe, impressing with their attacking approach and dynamism,” Chelsea Director Marina Granovskaia said in a statement on the west London club’s website.

Abramovich, whose relationship with Conte soured over the past year after the coach griped about not getting some of the players he wanted through the transfer market, has been restricted in his ability to travel to Britain because of an issue with renewing his visa.

The businessman missed Chelsea’s FA Cup victory against Manchester United on May 19, Conte’s last in charge of the team. His visa problem emerged after Britain accused Russia of poisoning a former Russian spy and his daughter. Abramovich has since secured Israeli citizenship.

The Chelsea owner, whose fortune the Bloomberg Billionaires Index puts at $14 billion, has since shelved a major redevelopment of the club’s stadium, blaming an unfavorable investment climate.

In his first few years at the helm, Abramovich invested more than 700 million pounds ($926 million) in signing new players, helping to make the club London’s top team for most of his tenure. Chelsea has won four Premier League titles and Europe’s most coveted trophy, the Champions League, in 2012.

After a disappointing season last year, the club starts this season out of the Champions League for only the second time under Abramovich.

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