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Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea to-do list includes Hazard, Courtois talks; fixing Morata

Gab Marcotti puts himself in the shoes of the Chelsea brass and explains why the club should hold off on replacing Antonio Conte with Maurizio Sarri.

It's safe to say there will be no honeymoon period for new Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri as he acclimatises to life as Antonio Conte's successor.

Chelsea are in the middle of arguably the most pivotal summer since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, with unsettled current players to reassure and new ones to sign in a compressed transfer window dominated by the World Cup.

Here's a look at the most urgent priorities for Sarri in the coming days and weeks at Stamford Bridge.

Gain clarity on Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois futures

Chelsea's two key Belgians both held off signing new long-term contracts in order to see who would replace Conte and who the club would target to strengthen a thin and faltering squad this summer. Now is the time to find out exactly where they stand.

Managers do not decide which players are bought and sold at Chelsea, but Sarri needs to know whether or not he can count on Courtois and Hazard, the latter of whom you suspect would relish being featured in the kind of dynamic attacking system employed by Napoli last season.

Real Madrid are long-term admirers of both men, though it is not yet clear if they will make a concerted effort to prise them from Stamford Bridge this summer.

Florentino Perez's penchant for long, acrimonious transfer sagas means the answer to that question may not arrive on a timetable that suits Chelsea, but Sarri has enough to worry about without uncertainty swirling around two of his biggest stars.


Sarri appointed at Chelsea after Conte sacked

Marcotti: Sarri's charisma, poetic football an intriguing move for Chelsea
A timeline of tension as Conte finally departs
Zola: Chelsea must give Sarri 'freedom' to manage


Decide which Napoli players to target

Circumstances could enable Sarri to become the first new Chelsea boss since Jose Mourinho in 2004 to be granted the privilege of picking players from his former club for Abramovich to sign.

Jorginho has already been secured and of Napoli's key contributors, prolific forward Dries Mertens has a relatively cheap release clause in his contract of €28 million. Reports have also suggested that Sarri is interested in bringing right-back Elseid Hysaj and midfielder Piotr Zielinski to Stamford Bridge.

The contractual availability of Mertens means he could well be snapped up fast this summer, while many other members of Napoli's team will not be short of suitors in light of their contributions to an excellent Serie A campaign.

If Sarri wants to bring some of his old charges with him, Chelsea will have to move quickly.

Find a way inside Alvaro Morata's head

Morata's underwhelming debut season in English football was the first among many reasons why Chelsea were a shadow of their Premier League title-winning vintage in attack.

Having looked unstoppable in August and September, Morata scored just eight goals in 40 appearances across all competitions the rest of the season and some of his more egregious misses were meme-worthy. In the end he could have no complaints about missing Spain's World Cup squad.

The final months of Chelsea's season were littered with claims that Morata was already disillusioned with life in London and eyeing a move back to Italy, where he enjoyed the best form of his career at Juventus.

Chelsea do not want to give up on Morata so quickly, but pictures of the striker and his agent talking to Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici in Milan earlier this summer only prompted more questions about his commitment.

Sarri needs to know as soon as possible if he is building his Chelsea team with or without Morata.

Get familiar with Chelsea's loanees

Conte's frequent complaints about a lack of options last season elicited little sympathy from those keen to point out the army of players that Chelsea loan out year after year.

Some will never play for the club, others aren't ready just yet. The rest fall into the purgatorial middle ground that Sarri must sift through sooner rather than later as Chelsea finalise their summer transfer plans.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek earned a place in England's World Cup squad ahead of Danny Drinkwater and Ross Barkley; Michy Batshuayi shone during a limited first-team run at Borussia Dortmund and Kurt Zouma was a bright spark at Stoke City.

All could boost Sarri's squad if he decides they fit his vision, or be sold to raise significant funds for new signings.

Make the most of preseason plans

Preparation time on the training pitch will be seriously limited for Sarri this summer.

Chelsea head to Australia for a friendly against Perth Glory on July 23, just eight days after the World Cup final, before honouring their International Champions Cup commitments in Nice and Dublin and preparing for the Community Shield against Manchester City on Aug. 5, before taking on Lyon on Aug. 7 at Stamford Bridge.

It is an extraordinarily compressed schedule, and Sarri could see very little of some of his big names prior to the start of the new Premier League season on Aug. 11 due to post-tournament breaks. That's bad news for a coach whose thrilling style of play requires a lot of tactical and fitness work.

Every hour he gets with the Chelsea players available to him, both in Australia and Europe, will be vital.

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.

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