Maurizio Sarri says Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich still influences the club

Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich applauds, as players celebrate their league title win at the end of the Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London on May 21, 2017. Chelsea's extended victory parade reached a climax with the trophy presentation on May 21, 2017 after being crowned Premier League champions with two games to go.
Image: Abramovich rarely attends Chelsea matches due to visa issues

Maurizio Sarri says Roman Abramovich is still committed to Chelsea and carries influence at the club, echoing comments made by club chairman Bruce Buck on Thursday.

Chelsea's billionaire owner has opted not to pay up front for a corporate hospitality box at Stamford Bridge, as revealed in accounts lodged with Companies House.

Abramovich has taken Israeli citizenship which means he can visit the UK visa-free for up to six months at a time, but cannot work in the country.

The 52-year-old has owned Chelsea since 2003 but recent issues with his UK visa had led to speculation he would seek to sell the club - though head coach Sarri insists Abramovich retains a hands-on role at Stamford Bridge.

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Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck spoke of Roman Abramovich's commitment to the club on Thursday

"He has some problems now, but he is involved with the club, with the team," said Sarri.

"He is the owner, and so he is able to influence the technical staff, the club, the players, everything I think.

"Also in Naples, the president Aurelio De Laurentiis wasn't in the training ground every day. He was in the training ground once a month, no more. So it's really very similar."

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Sarri revealed his assistant Gianfranco Zola speaks more regularly to Abramovich, given the ex-Chelsea forward's superior English.

Maurizio Sarri and his assistant Gianfranco Zola during the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium
Image: Sarri with his assistant Gianfranco Zola

Asked how much contact he has with the club's owner, Sarri said: "More Zola than me. Because Zola speaks English better than me, of course."

Chelsea will host West Ham on Monday night as their bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League intensifies.

Academy graduates Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are expected to play a key part between now and the end of the campaign.

Both young English talents shone in Chelsea's 3-0 win over Brighton in midweek, but Sarri rejected suggestions he had been urged by club bosses to hand both men more playing time.

Asked if he was under pressure to select Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek, Sarri replied: "No. It's up to the players, they are improving.

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Danny Higginbotham says Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi should keep his place in the side after impressing on his full Premier League debut

"In this moment of the season, they are fresh. So I think that, in this moment, they are really very important for us.

"But at the beginning of the season, Odoi had a very great potential but wasn't ready to play in the Premier League.

"Loftus the same. He had only to adapt to my football, to improve tactically for my football.

"Then he had a lot of problems with his back, and so we had to wait for him. But now they are fresh; they are ready."

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