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Chelsea won't catch Manchester City with January signings - Maurizio Sarri

LONDON -- Maurizio Sarri said that even January signings will not turn Chelsea into a genuine threat to Manchester City in this season's Premier League title race.

Chelsea remain unbeaten after their first 12 matches of the league campaign and lie just four points behind leaders City, but Sarri has repeatedly insisted that last season's 30-point gap is more reflective of the true gulf between his team and Pep Guardiola's men.

His scepticism has prompted reports that Chelsea could move to strengthen their squad in the January window, but Sarri -- who has made no secret of his general disdain for the transfer market -- does not expect his club to find any shortcuts to title contention off the pitch in the New Year.

"Not at the moment, no," Sarri said when asked if January signings would make Chelsea challengers more quickly. "I believe in another [way of] football. It's impossible to recover only via the market.

"Maybe you are able to buy two or three very important players, but maybe one is not suitable for your team. So it's not easy, also, by the market. We have to work."

Saturday's match against Tottenham brings Sarri into competition with Mauricio Pochettino, another of Europe's most highly-regarded coaches who is still looking for the first major trophy of his top-level career.

The subject of silverware exasperates Sarri, who believes Pochettino's stellar reputation within the game is justified regardless of his lack of trophies.

"I want to win something just to avoid this question," Sarri said. "In every press conference, you ask me the same thing. So I need to win something as soon as possible [to shut you up].

"Sometimes there are the conditions for winning. Sometimes not. Maybe Pochettino is not in the conditions to win at the moment. In the Premier League there is for sure one team stronger. Maybe two. So it's very difficult to win if you're not the best team.

"Sometimes it's difficult to win even if you are the best team. If you're not, it's more difficult. It's clear he's a very important coach, with a trophy or without a trophy."

In the summer of 2017, Sarri's predecessor Antonio Conte revealed that his dream striker signing would be Tottenham star Harry Kane, who has scored 10 goals in 16 club appearances this season and netted England's dramatic later winner against Croatia at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday.

Sarri, however, has a different favourite player in Pochettino's squad. "Of course Harry Kane is the best English striker in the moment, so a very important player, but if I have to say another name, I like very much [Christian] Eriksen," he admitted.

"He is a very smart player, a very technical player. He's able to play in midfield and, at the same moment, to score eight or nine goals in a season. I think that he is a very important player."

When it was jokingly pointed out that Eriksen's current contract expires in June 2020, Sarri replied: "No, no, no. I like him very much, but I don't want to talk about a player of Tottenham for the market, of course. I only answered a question."

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