Chelsea appoint Enzo Maresca as new boss on five-year deal

The Italian replaces Mauricio Pochettino.

Enzo Maresca has been appointed Chelsea manager on a five-year deal
Enzo Maresca has been appointed Chelsea manager on a five-year deal (Mike Egerton/PA)

Chelsea have appointed Leicester manager Enzo Maresca as their new head coach on a five-year deal with an option for a further year.

The 44-year-old, who was previously an assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, guided the Foxes to the Championship title and an immediate top-flight return last season in his first managerial job in England.

The PA news agency understands the choice was unanimous between the board and co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Lawrence Stuart, with the pair having led what was a thorough search, and that the Italian’s Premier League experience at City was a key factor.

Maresca’s winning mentality as a coach who could return the club to the top of English football after two seasons spent largely in mid-table is also understood to have impressed decision-makers, including co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali.

Winstanley and Stuart said: “We are delighted to welcome Enzo to Chelsea. He has proven himself to be an excellent coach capable of delivering impressive results with an exciting and identifiable style.

“Enzo has deeply impressed us in our discussions leading up to his appointment. His ambitions and work ethic align with those of the club. We thoroughly look forward to working with him.”

Enzo Maresca guided Leicester to the Championship title last season
Enzo Maresca guided Leicester to the Championship title last season (Nick Potts/PA)

He replaces Mauricio Pochettino who left the club by mutual consent two weeks ago one year into a two-year contract, having failed to reach agreement with the Chelsea hierarchy over the scope of his responsibility regarding football matters.

Maresca will formally start work on July 1, having emerged as the outstanding candidate from among a field that included Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna, Brentford’s Thomas Frank and outgoing Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi.

In a statement he said: “To join Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in the world, is a dream for any coach. It is why I am so excited by this opportunity.

“I look forward to working with a very talented group of players and staff to develop a team that continues the club’s tradition of success and makes our fans proud.”

Maresca, whose only previous senior appointment prior to Leicester was a brief spell managing Serie B side Parma in 2021, is understood to have been persuaded in part by the makeup of the squad at Stamford Bridge.

He has already been studying the team’s matches from last season while on holiday in advance of taking up the role, and has made requests including the setting up of a facility at the club’s Cobham training ground to analyse data on first-team and academy players.

A priority of the club was to make an appointment that would fit with their model of working, in which a head coach sits within a wider set-up where work is delegated and remits strictly defined.

Maresca’s willingness to work within a system that prioritises data is one of the aspects of his style that sets him apart from Pochettino, who wanted a more traditional role with more say over issues such as player recruitment and backroom appointments.

PA understands there has been a positive response among the squad to the appointment, with feedback from other players to have worked with Maresca being encouraging.

Leicester were disappointed to lose Maresca
Leicester were disappointed to lose Maresca (Joe Giddens/PA)

His coaching and communication skills are among the attributes to have been spoken of favourably.

Leicester have expressed their disappointment at Maresca’s exit and are now looking for a sixth full-time manager since Claudio Ranieri led them to the Premier League title in 2016.

“Given the promising foundations established during his single season in charge, the Club is disappointed that Enzo has decided at this stage that he no longer wants to be part of our vision,” read a club statement.

“However, with Enzo’s decision made and the Board’s terms for his departure met, we wish him well in his future endeavours.

“He leaves with the appreciation of everyone at the Club for his work in helping us to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League during the 2023/24 season.”