Former Chelsea and current Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri has praised current Blues boss Maurizio Sarri, saying his countryman is a great coach who is worthy to be in a top club like the west London side.

The two Italians are set to face each other in a London derby when Sarri’s side welcome Ranieri’s charges at Stamford Bridge this weekend and both have shown mutual respect for each other.

Sarri has recently stated he has been a student of his compatriot, with the current Blues head coach recently revealing that in the 1990s, he had gone on to visit Ranieri who was then at Fiorentina, and that he has studied the former Leicester manager’s tactics from 20 years ago. On the other hand, the Foxes’ title-winning manager, just last month, has recently paid visit to Sarri at the Cobham training ground before taking over at Fulham.

The 67-year-old had been asked about his first meeting with Sarri and Ranieri remembered, saying“Yes, he came to me and said ‘can I come to watch your training session?’ I think Sarri is a very good coach. He arrived so late at the high level, he deserves it. He deserves where he is.

I have been to (Cobham) – he was very kind with me. It was very interesting. Sarri has made a very good group, who play with the right philosophy.”

It was at Chelsea where Ranieri had held his first coaching job in England and he expressed his delight at the chance of returning to Stamford Bridge, where he occupied the dugout from 2000-2004.

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“It’s always special (returning to Chelsea), ” added Ranieri. “Every team where I work is special. I came in England to Chelsea and had four fantastic years.”

Finally, the showdown on the weekend will pit Ranieri’s side against Chelsea talisman Eden Hazard and while the 67-year-old fondly remembers the Belgian superstar’s strike in a different London derby in 2016 that “clinched” the title for Leicester, he hopes Hazard will have a quiet game against the Cottagers come Sunday.

“And also Hazard scored a great goal for Leicester (earning Chelsea a draw against Tottenham in 2016, handing Leicester the title). Thank you Eden, again. Sunday, stay calm please!”