Gonzalo Higuain will not have completed his move to Chelsea in time to face Tottenham in the EFL Cup on Thursday, Maurizio Sarri has said.
The Argentina striker is expected to join the Blues on loan from AC Milan, having reportedly travelled to England for a medical on Wednesday, with Sarri confirming the player is "a few hours" from finalising terms.
However, when asked if the deal was ratified before the 12:00 GMT deadline, which would allow him to make his debut against Spurs in the semi-final second leg, the Chelsea head coach was unconvinced.
"It's impossible, I think," he told a news conference.
When asked if he anticipated any problems with his medical, Sarri replied: "I have to speak with the doctors, I didn't see him before, and then I have to speak to the club. But I think for tomorrow it's impossible [that he plays]."
Higuain signed for Milan on loan from Juventus during the previous transfer window after the Serie A champions brought in Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid in a €112million deal.
The 31-year-old has managed six goals in 15 league appearances this term but has failed to show the sort of form he produced under Sarri at Napoli in 2015-16, when he scored 36 times in 35 matches, breaking the record for Italy's top flight set by Gunnar Nordahl in 1950.
However, Sarri believes Higuain's relative struggles at San Siro are because the team is not up to the same standard as Juve.
"I know they are trying for [in] a few hours for him to sign a contract today," he said. "We are hoping he will start scoring for us. He is also very good at playing other than scoring goals.
"I know he had some difficulties recently, but we hope we can get him back to his best form.
"He wants to win all the time, every situation. In the last five years it only happened twice that he lost his temper – for Napoli against Udinese and Milan against Juve. As far as failure is concerned, I wouldn't call it failure. He finds himself at a team that is not at the same level as Juventus.
"He's a very strong striker. Especially in my first season in Naples, he did very well, he scored 36 goals in 35 matches in Serie A. In the season, he scored 39 goals. He did very, very, very well.
"For sure, he is one of the best strikers in my career. He played a full season for Real Madrid, I think, so I think he has the right experience to play here.
"It's very difficult in January to find one of the most important strikers in the world, so I think the club is working very well. It's not easy to get an important striker in the market."
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