Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has admitted that he is starting to feel like this team is his amid repeated questions over his future.
Eden Hazard bid a glorious farewell to Chelsea by netting a brace as Sarri’s side roared past Arsenal to seal Europa League success in Azerbaijan.
Unai Emery was looking to continue his love affair with this competition and end the Gunners’ 25-year wait for continental success at the end of his maiden campaign in the dugout.
But Arsenal collapsed as a tepid first half made way for a memorable second period at the sparsely-filled Baku Olympic Stadium, where Chelsea manager Sarri masterminded a 4-1 win that brought his first major trophy.
“We had a good season, because we earned out place in the Champions League via the Premier League, which was not an easy task considering the high overall level,” Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.
“We reached the League Cup Final after knocking out Liverpool and Tottenham, only lost on penalties to Manchester City. In the Europa League we won 12 and drew three, we scored more than anyone else.
“I think after tonight our season goes from good to extraordinary. It was not easy to arrive and settle quickly in such a difficult league. I had some problems, but from February onwards I saw something change in the rapport with the team. Maybe I changed too, but I am starting to feel like this team is mine.”
Hazard scored a match-winning brace for the Blues and after the game seemed to say his goodbye to Chelsea, with Sarri seemingly confirming his exit.
“I’m sad, because Hazard is an extraordinary player and can achieve even more. He’s an odd lad, but once you get into his comfort zone, he’s wonderful.
“This is the time to celebrate. From tomorrow, as with all clubs, we’ll sit down and see what the club wants me to improve and what I want the club to improve. There are still two years on the contract, so as with every club, we have to sit down and evaluate everything.
“Over the last 20 days people have said I was certainly going to Roma, Milan and Juventus, so as long as I read them in the papers, it makes no difference.
“I am pleased that Napoli congratulated me, I had no doubts it would happen. The Neapolitans know how much love I have for them and that last year I went abroad to avoid going straight to another Italian club.
“They will always have my love and respect. The profession means at times we might have to take different paths, but that will never change my history or my respect for them.
“I dedicate this firstly to the Napoli fans, because this is the satisfaction I was unable to give them last year. I also dedicate it to those lads in the Chelsea squad who couldn’t play tonight because of injuries. I think it’s only right for all of us to have a special thought for them.”