Chelsea turn attention to Enzo Maresca in hunt for new manager

<span>Enzo Maresca led Leicester to an immediate return to the Premier League.</span><span>Photograph: Nick Potts/PA</span>
Enzo Maresca led Leicester to an immediate return to the Premier League.Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Chelsea are set to ask Leicester for permission to speak to Enzo Maresca. The manager is competing with Brentford’s Thomas Frank and Ipswich’s Kieran McKenna, who is also a target for Brighton and Manchester United, in the race to replace Mauricio Pochettino.

Chelsea are confident of making a swift appointment and McKenna, who inspired Ipswich’s astonishing promotion to the Premier League, has been viewed as the leading candidate. But the race remains open and there is support for Maresca, who led Leicester to the Championship title last season and is admired by the recruitment team at Stamford Bridge.

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The process began with Chelsea piecing together a longlist that featured at least eight candidates after Pochettino left by mutual consent this week. Along with McKenna, Frank and Maresca, Stuttgart’s Sebastian Hoeness, Sporting Lisbon’s Rúben Amorim, Girona’s Míchel, Fulham’s Marco Silva and Roberto De Zerbi were included. Interest in Silva is unlikely to be pursued.

Chelsea have notified Ipswich of their interest in McKenna but Brighton want him to replace De Zerbi. Sources close to McKenna, whose release clause is about £4m, believe the 38-year-old would favour United if they ask him to replace Erik ten Hag. Ipswich are desperate to hold on to their manager and have offered him a lucrative new deal.

It is understood Maresca, who would be interested in joining Chelsea, has a strong chance of landing the job. A consideration for the 44-year-old, whose release clause is about £8.5m, will be that Leicester could be hit with a points deduction before the start of the next season.

Frank is the most experienced of the trio at the top of Chelsea’s thinking. The Dane has done a fine job at Brentford since leading them into the top flight three years ago. Frank’s release clause, previously set at £3m, is expected to have increased since he signed a new deal in 2022.