Chelsea: Enzo Maresca agrees terms on five-year deal to become Blues head coach | Football News

Enzo Maresca has agreed terms on a five-year deal with Chelsea to become their new head coach.

The 44-year-old, who will succeed Mauricio Pochettino at Stamford Bridge, will move from Leicester after leading them back to the Premier League by winning the Championship.

It is understood work on his contract is being finalised by lawyers and an announcement could be made before the weekend.

The length of contract reflects the fact that everyone is focused on bringing long-term success back to Chelsea and ends any future speculation about renewals.

Chelsea co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart had travelled to Marbella for face-to-face talks with Maresca after Leicester gave permission for discussions to commence.

The Italian’s release clause at the King Power Stadium is understood to have been between £8m and £10m.

Chelsea were impressed by the depth and breadth of Maresca’s knowledge about their squad in talks with his representatives, as well as his focus on the way Chelsea want to play and his desire for the job.

Maresca’s obsession with possession and positional play made him the leading candidate to replace Pochettino, who left by mutual consent.

Senior Chelsea figures believe the new head coach will be the final piece of the jigsaw to fit into the new modern structure they have built at the club.

The west London club expect to be busy in the transfer market this summer with players coming and going. Trading is likely to see the signing of a new No 9 and centre-back, while the futures of high-earners such as Romelu Lukaku and Kepa Arrizabalaga need to be resolved.

‘Chelsea feel Maresca is the one for them’

Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

“Chelsea have had a very thorough process with Kieran McKenna, Thomas Frank and Roberto De Zerbi all considered, but they feel Maresca is the one for them.

“The others were all very impressive candidates, but Chelsea feel at this moment in time that Maresca is the man for them, and he shares their vision for the future.

“He’s only been a manager for one-and-a-half seasons. He was a manager at Parma in the Italian second division and then he got the Leicester job.

“There have been some issues behind the scenes and not all Leicester fans have been completely happy with him even though he got them promotion back to the Premier League.

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Chelsea fans have differing views on Maresca

“There were problems about recruitment and problems around the fact that Leicester have been charged for allegedly breaking PSR (Profitability and Sustainability Rules) and they’re also under a transfer embargo from the EFL.

“There have been issues, but Chelsea just want a head coach. They want somebody who is going to coach the first-team squad and deal with the media. Everything else, they feel they have in place.

“You have to remember that Mikel Arteta didn’t have any prior experience of having managed in the Premier League before joining Arsenal, but he had worked under Pep Guardiola which is exactly the same as Maresca.

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Jason Burt from the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail’s Riath Al-Samarrai discuss Maresca and whether he will be a success at Chelsea

“I’m not saying he’s a better manager than Arteta, but he has more experience than he did when he took over at Arsenal.

“Don’t underestimate the Pep effect. If you’ve worked under Guardiola, you’ve got a head-start when going for these sorts of jobs, however, you still have to impress, which Maresca has done during these talks.

“I’ve been told that his knowledge of the Chelsea squad, including the youth team players is encyclopaedic.”

Why Chelsea are willing to take a risk on Maresca

Enzo Maresca

Despite having managed less than 70 senior matches, just 53 in England and none in the Premier League, Maresca is set to become Pochettino’s successor at Stamford Bridge, write Sam Blitz and Ron Walker. Even so, he arrives with high expectations.

The 44-year-old will take on the job in similar circumstances to when Claudio Ranieri arrived in 2000 – with demands to reach the Champions League.

Pochettino’s surprise departure from Stamford Bridge largely boiled down to the Blues missing out on the top four. Chelsea’s owners watched last month’s Champions League semi-finals wondering why such a stage was not within the club’s reach.

But despite his relative inexperience, Chelsea do not just see Maresca as a manager capable of getting them into Europe’s premier club competition. They want an attractive style of football, based on possession and dominance.

His attachment and schooling within the Pep Guardiola philosophy plays a major part in their thinking. A Manchester City-lite style of play is what Maresca has brought to Leicester during his year at the King Power.

Pep Guardiola led Man City to a fourth successive Premier League title

That same patient play which ranks Guardiola’s side bottom of the Premier League for forward-pass proportion year after year was embedded almost overnight – in the Championship only Southampton’s percentage was lower than Leicester’s last season.

“Maresca is so embedded in that Guardiola style of play that he was always going to attract interest when he was able to make that style successful – and that’s what he’s done at Leicester,” Jordan Blackwell, Leicester correspondent at the Leicester Mercury, told Sky Sports.

“It felt like the club had thought outside the box to bring Maresca in, a man with a lot of tactical knowledge whose acumen has been raved about. That’s not only as Pep’s assistant but with Man City U21s and a first-team coach at West Ham.”

What’s top of Maresca’s Chelsea in-tray?

Enzo Maresca's Chelsea in-tray

Head coach almost in the bag, Chelsea’s attention now turns to improving Maresca’s squad, writes Joe Shread. Despite signing two goalkeepers last summer, the Blues want a new No 1 – unsurprising given Djordje Petrovic’s frailties.

The departure of Thiago Silva necessitates the signing of a new centre-back. Tosin Adarabioyo, who is out of contract at Fulham, has been offered a deal but is also wanted by Newcastle.

Reece James and Ben Chilwell’s never-ending injury issues could lead Chelsea to target new full-backs, while their search for a proven No 9 continues – despite a combined £84m outlay on forwards Nicolas Jackson and Christopher Nkunku last summer.

Jackson showed flashes of promise during his debut season – scoring 14 goals in 31 starts – but is not the dependable target man Chelsea have been crying out for, perhaps dating all the way back to the departure of Diego Costa in 2017.

The Boehly-Clearlake ownership has sanctioned more than £1bn of transfer spending since arriving two years ago. Expect that to continue.

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