Gary Cahill confirmed as Chelsea captain by Maurizio Sarri

Gary Cahill during the pre-season friendly match between Chelsea and Lyon at Stamford Bridge on August 7, 2018 in London, England.

Maurizio Sarri says Chelsea's captain this season is Gary Cahill - even though the defender is not a first-team regular.

Cahill, 32, has been at Chelsea since 2012 but has admitted that he may have to leave the club in order to secure regular first-team football.

However, while he remains at Stamford Bridge, he is the captain as far as Sarri is concerned.

"The captain is Cahill, and, if he's not on the pitch, it's (Cesar) Azpilicueta," said the Chelsea boss.

Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates scoring  the equalising goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge on September 15, 2018 in London, United Kingdom 0:36
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri reveals Eden Hazard is fit enough to play for 45 minutes in their Premier League game against Crystal Palace

"Cahill was the captain last season and I have spoken with his mates, and everybody told me that he was really a very good captain."

Asked if there was any possibility of Cahill leaving when the transfer window re-opens in January, Sarri said: "It depends on him.

"I think he played very often in the last seven, eight matches. It depends on him and the club.

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"For me, Cahill is very important on the pitch, but also off the pitch."

Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek spent last season on loan at Crystal Palace but he has begun to play more regularly at Chelsea in recent weeks and Sarri is not contemplating sending him out on loan later in the campaign.

"Ruben in October played four matches out of five, so I think the situation is not for a loan," said Sarri.

Ross Barkley scores a stoppage time equaliser for Chelsea
Image: Sarri thinks Ross Barkley is an important player for Chelsea - and also for English football

The Italian also had praise for the in-form Ross Barkley, adding: "He has a great technical quality and good quality from the physical point of view.

"He is improving now, after the injury last season.

"He improved from the tactical point of view so he is becoming a very important player for us, and not only for us but I think also for English football."

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