Enzo Maresca: Inside Traits of Potential New Chelsea Head Coach As Club Begins Talks

Enzo Maresca: Inside Traits of Potential New Chelsea Head Coach As Club Begins Talks

Martin Moses
May 28, 2024 at 9:21 AM
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  • Enzo Maresca is now the leading candidate to become Chelsea boss
  • The Italian head coach will leave Leicester City after only one season
  • Sports Brief looks at some of the traits he would bring to West London

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Enzo Maresca is in line to become the next Chelsea head coach following Mauricio Pochettino's exit last week after only one season in charge.

There had been talk that the club wanted to get a young manager to develop their equally young squad, and in Maresca, they seem to have found their ideal candidate.

Enzo Maresca, Leicester City, Chelsea, Premier League, Pep Guardiola, Parma.
Leicester City boss Enzo Maresca at the end of their Championship game against Blackburn Rovers on May 4, 2024. Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA.
Source: Getty Images

The Italian, currently at Leicester City, was on the shortlist, which included Roberto De Zerbi, Kieran McKenna and Thomas Frank. Sky Sports understands that Leicester have granted the Blues permission to speak to Maresca.

Prior to guiding the Foxes back to the Premier League at the first time of asking, Maresca's only other role as head coach was a six-month stint at Parma. He might have been involved in Manchester City's treble-winning campaign in the 2022/2023 season, but any Chelsea fan is right to feel that the club has gambled with another 'rookie.'

Who is Enzo Maresca and what is his style?

For a coach who only has one full season, there isn't much to go on, but Sports Brief analyses some of the things the fans might see from the 44-year-old if he indeed takes over at Stamford Bridge.

Possession-based football

Like his mentor at Manchester City, Maresca prefers to have his players dominate the ball, pass it around and wear down the opposition before creating chances.

On paper, he sets up his team in a 4-3-3 formation, which drifts to a 4-5-1 when out of possession and a 3-2-5 when in possession.

He encourages one of his fullbacks, normally the right-back (Ricardo Perreira), to move into midfield when in possession. This, in turn, pushed five players upfront as they play with a back three, or even a back four if you add the goalkeeper.

Pochettino used Marc Cucurella in a similar position during his last six games in charge with great success. If Maresca could replicate the same with Reece James, who is statistically a better passer of the ball than Cucurella, it could work to his advantage.

Proven workaholic and meticulous planner

The Athletic's Rob Tanner explains that Maresca rewatched every Leicester game of their relegation season to acquaint himself with what he was getting into.

His pre-game plans include hours of opposition footage before he leads the team out on the grass to try new ideas. At Chelsea, he will find a squad that has already gotten into rhythm thanks to Pochettino's efforts, but he will still need to work tenfold to whip them into his ideas.

"It is important that the training is not boring; that it’s always dynamic," he said.

Elite man-management

For a young coach, Maresca has found a way to earn the respect of his players while showing them he is available to sort out their issues.

Wilfried Ndidi had glowing praise for the former Manchester City assistant manager.

"He has been brilliant, to be honest. When he came, he told us what his plan was and what he wanted from everybody. He got everyone together even when you were not playing before," said the Nigerian midfielder.

Pep Guardiola's touch

Well, it might not guarantee success, but any manager who has worked under the revered Manchester City boss has been great at what they do.

Xavi Hernandez, Mikel Arteta, Xabi Alonso and even Vincent Kompany (Burnley's Championship dominance) have all indirectly credited Guardiola with their management skills.

Chelsea's board want a manager who can compete with Guardiola and Arteta for top honours and they will be hoping he 'stole' enough of the former's tactics during his time at the Etihad Stadium.

How Chelsea can still qualify for Europa League

Sports Brief has also reported on how Chelsea could still qualify for the Europa League next season.

The Blues lost their place after Manchester United won the FA Cup to qualify for the second-tier European competition.

They could, however, be handed a reprieve if UEFA flexes its rules on multi-club ownership.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)