Alvaro Morata enabled the transfer of Gonzalo Higuain to Chelsea after requesting to leave the club last month, according to Maurizio Sarri.

Morata, 26, looks set to leave Stamford Bridge with Atletico Madrid reportedly closing in on a temporary loan move, while Higuain has recently put pen to paper on a six-month loan deal in west London with the option to buy.

Why is Alvaro Morata leaving Chelsea? Five things to know…

  1. Signed from Real Madrid for around £60m in 2017, Morata started his Chelsea career like a house on fire with eight goals in his first eight games.
  2. His form dramatically dipped soon after, scoring just two league goals at the turn of 2018.
  3. This season he has netted just five league goals and come in for strong criticism.
  4. Sarri called him “mentally fragile” last month and has now revealed the striker asked to leave in December.
  5. Chelsea have completed the signing of fellow striker, Gonzalo Higuain, on loan until the end of the season.

The Argentine marksman famously worked under Sarri’s guidance during his time at Napoli, scoring 36 Serie A goals in the 2015/16 season, and he has now been dubbed as the man who will save Chelsea’s season.

The Blues have looked dysfunctional and cumbersome in recent matches, notably underperforming in a 2-0 defeat against Arsenal, where they registered just one shot on target, but Sarri will be hoping to the departure of Morata and arrival of Higuain will change the mood.

Morata has struggled this term, but it has now been revealed that the Spain international asked to leave the club as early as December.

“Morata is potentially a very good player,” Sarri said. “He has the characteristics for playing in my team, but one month ago he said he wanted to play for another team.

“It was very difficult for him to give us 100 per cent because of his mental situation. He is very suitable for my football, but the situation has changed in the last month, so we needed to change.

“In the January market, it is very difficult to get a very good striker. Gonzalo was in a situation we could try to get him, so we decided to try.”

“I didn’t attack my players”

Following the defeat to Arsenal at the weekend, Sarri refused to mince his words when he criticised his players for lacking a “battling” mentality, while further stating that his players are “extremely difficult to motivate.”

However, the Italian tactician has now played down his harsh words, insisting that he discussed the criticism with his players and it is “not a big problem”.

He said: “I discussed it with the players after the match. They agreed with me. I said to them the same things as I said in the press conference. It’s not a big problem. I want to be direct with them, in private and in public.

“I didn’t attack my players. I only explained to the journalists my problem. They are very good boys, with this little problem I can help them with.

“I also have the responsibility for their mental point of view. The performance was my fault of course, but I said I was in trouble because it is very difficult to motivate them. I didn’t want to attack them.

“If we have a problem, we have to discuss the problem, try and find a reason for the problem,” added Sarri. “We have to do something to improve it. Why do I need to keep it a secret?

“We are changing something in training, and in the pre-match. We are trying to do our best.”

Chelsea face Spurs in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg on Thursday, looking to overturn a one goal deficit after defeat in the first leg.

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