Maurizio Sarri says he wants to keep Willian at Chelsea but believes the Brazilian needs to do better.
Head coach Sarri said he had no knowledge of an approach from Barcelona, who expressed an interest in Willian during the summer and have done so again, this time offering Malcom as part of a proposed exchange deal.
Sarri said: “I didn’t receive anything. You have to ask the club. I have no idea. You have to call the club and ask about the market.
“If you ask me about the market you put me in trouble because I don’t know how to answer.”
Barcelona’s offer was rejected by Chelsea and Sarri regards Willian as a vital player.
But he also believes the 30-year-old can score more goals and improve his work off the ball.
When it was suggested to Sarri that he would not want to lose Willian, the Italian said: “Of course not, because Willian for us is really very important.
“I think he can do better because the potential is higher. But he’s really very important for us so I think it’s impossible for us to lose him in January.”
Pressed on how he believes Willian can improve, Sarri said: “Usually he wants the ball on the feet – always on the feet.
“So I think he can improve in his movement without the ball. And he has the potential to score more.”
Speaking at a media conference on Friday afternoon, Sarri also:
• Said Ruben Loftus-Cheek is out but Alvaro Morata has returned to training
• Reiterated that Cesc Fabregas “needs to go” and suggested the midfielder, whose expected move to Monaco has not been completed, is not in the right frame of mind to play against Newcastle on Saturday
• Responded to a question about Gonzalo Higuain by saying he (Sarri) had told Chelsea he believes two players are needed, but reiterated he does not have control over transfers
• Accused Bayern Munich of being unprofessional and disrespectful by publicly pursuing Callum Hudson-Odoi
• Made it clear he wants replacements if Fabregas and/or Morata leave.