Maurizio Sarri was left to complain about the loss of Cesc Fabregas after another wretched midfield display by Jorginho.
The Italy midfielder was Sarri’s first signing, for £57million, when he arrived in London from Napoli last July, but he was below par again against Newcastle, wasteful in possession and unimaginative with the ball at his feet.
His performance was a world away from those early-season displays in which he set the tone for Chelsea during their 18-game unbeaten start to the season.
Sarri couldn’t hide his disappointment, saying that he would have substituted Jorginho for Fabregas if the Spaniard had not left on Friday.
‘After 20 minutes, Jorginho lost a lot of balls,’ Sarri said. ‘It’s unusual and he was in trouble. Maybe he was tired.’
Chelsea are working on finding a replacement for Fabregas: Nicolo Barella, from Cagliari, and Zenit Saint Petersburg’s Leandro Parades are targets.
‘A player who plays in that position usually touches about 120 or 130 balls so we need a specialist there,’ Sarri said.
Willian scored a stunning winner for Chelsea, then said he wanted to stay in London, despite Barcelona’s £50m bid for him.
Chelsea rejected the offer of cash plus the winger Malcom, but the bid thrust Willian’s long-term future into focus.
The Brazil attacking midfielder has 18 months left on his contract, meaning Chelsea are likely to try to sell him in the next six months, or risk him leaving for nothing as his deal winds down. Willian insists he is eager for a new contract at Chelsea.
‘My future is here,’ he said on Saturday night. ‘I have one-and-a-half years contract, so I want to stay until my contract is finished. I don’t know if the club want me to sign a new contract, so my head is here. My focus is here.’
‘If they want, I want,’ he said, indicating his willingness to accept an offer from Chelsea. ‘I am adapted here, five-and-a-half years here, a lot of titles, I am very happy here. So if they want me to sign, of course, I want that.
‘I think there’s a lot more for me to do here. Chelsea are a great team, to play for Chelsea you have to put your mind to winning titles every year. Sometimes one year it does not happen, but the second it does. So in my mind I want to win titles every year.’
Willian will be 31 in August, and Chelsea’s policy of offering their over-30s only 12-month extensions on their contracts could be a stumbling block.
So while Sarri was expressing his regret at Fabregas’s departure for Monaco, the decision to turn down Barcelona’s offer for Willian brought instant gratification on Saturday, the wide man’s brilliant winner maintaining their hold on a place in the Premier League’s top four.
With the day’s results seeing Newcastle slip into the bottom three, their manager, Rafa Benitez, called on his club’s owners to release funds to enable him to sign a new attacker this month.
The message from Newcastle fans at Stamford Bridge for Mike Ashley, the owner, was abundantly clear: ‘Get out of our club!’
With takeover talks ongoing, the Newcastle board may be reluctant to spend during the transfer window, but Benitez said: ‘We are quite close and have been close against the top sides, apart from maybe Liverpool.
‘But the final third is where we have to spend the money. The big clubs are paying £40m or £50m for players who make the difference.’