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Enzo Maresca: Italian leaves Leicester to replace Mauricio Pochettino as Chelsea head coach

Enzo Maresca succeeds Mauricio Pochettino as head coach of Chelsea; 44-year-old Italian leaves Leicester after leading them to promotion to the Premier League by winning the Championship; Maresca preferred to Thomas Frank, Roberto De Zerbi and Kieran McKenna for the job

Enzo Maresca
Image: Enzo Maresca joins Chelsea from Leicester

Chelsea have appointed Enzo Maresca as their new head coach.

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

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SSN Chief Reporter Kaveh Solhekol tells us what incoming Chelsea boss Enzo Maresca will bring with him to Stamford Bridge.

Maresca has signed a five-year deal - with the option for a further 12 months - at Stamford Bridge and was Chelsea's No 1 choice from a shortlist including Brentford's Thomas Frank, Ipswich's Kieran McKenna and Roberto De Zerbi, who left Brighton at the end of the season.

A statement from Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley, Chelsea's co-sporting directors, 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."

Maresca 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."

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Chelsea are understood to have paid between £8m and £10m to release Maresca from his Leicester contract.

Willy Caballero, Danny Walker, Michele De Bernardin, Marcos Alvarez, Javi Molina and Roberto Vitiello join Maresca at Chelsea having also worked with him at Leicester.

Chelsea have also confirmed the arrival of Bernardo Cueva from Brentford as the lead of their set-piece department.

The process to appoint Maresca was led by Winstanley and Stewart, who held face-to-face talks with the head coach in Marbella last week.

Chelsea were understood to be impressed by Maresca's "champion's mentality" and the depth of the Italian's knowledge about their squad in talks with his representatives, as well as his focus on the way the team 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 just two days after guiding Chelsea to a sixth-place Premier League finish.

The length of Maresca's contract reflects that Chelsea are focused on bringing long-term success back to the club, with senior figures at the club believing he will be the final piece of the jigsaw to fit into the new, modern structure they have built.

Chelsea 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'

Image: Enzo Maresca had a brief spell at Parma before guiding Leicester back into the Premier League

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.

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

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Sky Sports' Sam Blitz and Simeon Gholam take a look at what Leicester's Enzo Maresca and Ipswich's Kieran McKenna could bring to the Premier League and why they're in such high demand

"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.

"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."

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