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Enzo Maresca already has £60m Chelsea tactical key after bizarre Mauricio Pochettino analogy

Enzo Maresca
-Credit: (Image: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC)


Many questions have been asked about Enzo Maresca and he has not even officially joined Chelsea yet.

The Blues are expected to appoint the Italian in the very near future, football.london understands, with the Leicester City manager set to sign a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge. Maresca will join Chelsea after having just two managerial jobs in senior football and is yet to manage in the top-flight.

Last season, the 44-year-old inspired Leicester to the Championship title in his debut season with the club and did so while playing an attractive, front-foot style of football. During the Italian's time at Parma, though, things did not quite work out.

Maresca took over at the Stadio Ennio Tardini back in May 2021 after winning the Premier League 2 title with Manchester City. His time back in Italy, though, was a bit of a disaster and he lasted less than six months with the club before being sacked and returning to Man City as one of Pep Guardiola's assistant managers.

Working at a club like Man City and under the imperious Guardiola means he shares a similar style of football to the Spanish maestro. While not identical, a lot of what Maresca does can be traced back to Guardiola - including inverting the full-backs.

An unconventional and slightly unorthodox way of playing when introduced into English football for good by Guardiola at City, it has now become very popular throughout the Premier League.

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So much so that Mauricio Pochettino trialled it towards the end of his Chelsea tenure. The Blues were 2-0 down to Aston Villa at half-time in April and Pochettino made a slight tweak to his system.

While keeping the shape pretty much the same out of possession, when Chelsea did have the ball, Marc Cucurella would come into midfield, allowing Conor Gallagher to push up the field and giving Moises Caicedo more support in the centre of the field. Cucurella is very comfortable in position and it seemed to suit him down to the ground.

The Spaniard's form was so strong in this new role that he finished the season there. It has earned him a place in the Spain squad for the upcoming European Championship.

Rather bizarrely, but in a way that kind of made sense, Pochettino likened Cucurella and his role change to building a chair. He said this earlier in the month: "This role we can implement in the future but before that it is because you need to build the belief, the confidence, the trust, the team needs to compete.

"The tactical evolution that we, the coaching staff, have in our heads - yes, we will apply in the future but the most important thing, you cannot sit it you do not have a chair. You need to build the chair.

"The problem in football is if you don't have a team, you're expected to behave like a team. You are so selfish and after you need to share.

"The priorities in football, like an engineer who is going to build a building. You want to see how quickly the nice furniture, you want to live there. That is why sometimes we make a mistake when we judge the job of the people, the coaching staff and young players."

Maresca utilised the inverted full-backs last season at the King Power Stadium. Ricardo Pereira enjoyed perhaps his best season to-date with the Foxes by inverting into midfield.

In fact, Maresca took the unconventionality of his system even further. If Maresca would want his left-back coming into midfield instead of the right-back, then Pereira would swap sides with who was on the left-hand side.

Maresca has a steadfast loyalty to his style of play. He was often criticised last season for not having a 'Plan B' but in his rather scathing comments in January after the Foxes had just gone 10 points clear at the top of the Championship table with a win over Swansea City.

"Probably people think it is easy to win games, but it is not easy," the Italian explained. "You can feel the fans when they're not happy. Probably some people take some things for granted. But it is not like this.

"I arrived at this club to play with this idea. The moment there is some doubt about the idea, the day after, I will leave. It is so clear. No doubts."

Those responsible for appointing Maresca at Chelsea will have to buy into his ideas. Because, as his comments show, he is not changing for anyone.