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Chelsea hire Enzo Maresca as new manager: What to know about former Leicester City boss

Chelsea hired manager Enzo Maresca on a five-year deal on Monday, choosing the former Leicester City coach to succeed Mauricio Pochettino at Stamford Bridge after his surprise exit.

The 44-year-old’s contract also includes an option for another year, potentially indicating that Chelsea are planning for the long term with Maresca following swift negotiants between Chelsea and Leicester, who gave the Blues the green light to talk to Maresca on Monday, per The Athletic. The two clubs also agreed quickly on a compensation fee for the manager, who was previously on contract until 2026 at Leicester. The process to find Pochettino’s replacement is being led by co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley, who were also responsible for parting ways with the Argentine last month.

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Maresca emerged as a serious contender for the Chelsea job after leading Leicester to a first-place finish in the Championship and securing promotion to the Premier League in his first season in the job. He prefers a possession-based, attack-minded style of play that led the Foxes to score 89 goals in the league, second only to second-place Ipswich Town.

That was the Italians’s first full season in charge of a team, with his only managerial stint being a six-month spell in charge of Parma in 2021. Maresca was an assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City in between and was part of their treble-winning 2022-23 season and also was previously a youth coach at the club.

Maresca is set to beat the likes of Brentford’s Thomas Frank and Ipswich’s Kieran McKenna for the gig as Chelsea focus their efforts on an up-and-coming manager rather than one with experience at the top levels of the game.

McKenna was perhaps the leading contender as soon as Pochettino’s departure was confirmed, his stock high after leading Ipswich to back-to-back promotions and a spot in next season’s Premier League. He was also linked to vacancies at Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester United, but will reportedly sign a new long-term deal at Ipswich, per The Athletic.

It’s unclear what the expectations on Maresca are at Chelsea, since he’s a fairly inexperienced manager and is in charge of a team that could be severly impacted by their financial situation. CBS Sports reported in March that the club could post losses of £210 million over the last three years, double the Premier League limit according to their Profit and Sustainability Rules. The club has until June 30 to balance the books and could face serious penalties if they do not, something the Premier League has not been shy about in recent months. During the 2023-24 season, both Everton and Nottingham Forest were hit with point penalties and fines, something they had to overcome in order to survive relegation.

Maresca will also have the tough task of following up Pochettino’s lone season at Chelsea. It was turbulent at times, with uneven performances, some poor results and injuries to several key players but the former Tottenham Hotspur manage was able to steady the ship about midway through the season. Pochettino led them to a sixth-place finish, offering some optimism about the progress they could make next season. He left the club by mutual consent, though, which means Chelsea’s new leadership group are once again looking for a manager just two years after acquiring the club.

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