Enzo Maresca already has his perfect player at Chelsea to unleash Leicester tactic

Leicester City Manager Enzo Maresca applauds the fans at the final whistle during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leicester City and Sunderland at the King Power Stadium, Leicester on Tuesday 24th October 2023.
-Credit: (Image: (Photo by James Holyoak/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images))

Marc Cucurella will be hoping to crown a rather impressive summer by helping Spain to Euro 2024 glory in Germany. Named as part of Luis de la Fuente's squad and with Alejandro Grimaldo as competition at left-back following an incredible season in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen, the Chelsea ace has made the position his own in La Roja's starting XI and subsequently wowed at the tournament.

Coming off the back of a very strong end to the 2023/24 season with Chelsea, the 25-year-old has really caught the eye of fellow Spain international Rodri and duly come in for plenty of praise in the process. When asked which player in the Spain squad has surprised him, the Man City star namechecked Cucurella when speaking to El Partidazo de Cope.

"I know them all but… the level that Cucurella is showing," said Rodri (via Metro). "I already knew him but the level he is showing in a context like this in a Euro Cup… he is helping us a lot, especially defensively, the character he has. I am loving it and I hope he continues at this level."

Following such a mixed Chelsea career to date, Cucurella will be determined to carry his Euros form into the new Premier League campaign and become a permanent fixture in Enzo Maresca's Blues team. That will be easier said than done, though, especially with Ben Chilwell as competition at left-back.

However, the challenge he is currently facing from Grimaldo, who registered an extraordinary 12 goals and 20 assists in 51 games for Bayer Leverkusen last season, should stand him in good stead for what lies ahead at Stamford Bridge. Maresca certainly has a couple of options when it comes to Cucurella's role in his Chelsea team going forward.

The Italian's system in his debut season at Leicester City worked to perfection as they won promotion back to the Premier League and he will be hoping for similar results in west London as the Blues attempt to get back to challenging towards the top of the league. In regards to Maresca's Leicester defence, right-back Ricardo Pereira would come into midfield and operate from there when the Foxes were in possession of the ball, thus seeing the other three defenders form a back three in the process.

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This may indeed be replicated at Chelsea with either Reece James or Malo Gusto coming infield from their right-back position and progressing play from the middle of the park. Maresca also has the option to do likewise from the left flank instead, with Cucurella playing that exact role during the final few weeks of Mauricio Pochettino's tenure as Chelsea made a late surge for Europe.

The Argentine's decision proved to be a masterstroke as his left-back influenced play ahead, most notably in the 2-2 draw at Aston Villa as the Blues recovered from a two-goal deficit thanks to Pochettino's tactical tweak. Villa could just not deal with the overload in midfield and in the end it culminated in Conor Gallagher scoring an equaliser nine minutes from time.

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Continuing to play that way in their following two games against Tottenham and West Ham, Cucurella was a key figure as the Blues registered two rather impressive wins. It could be a role the ex-Brighton & Hove Albion man is unleashed in on a permanent basis next season but that will all come down to what Maresca chooses with excellent options to take on the role on either flank.

If it is to be James or Gusto who invert from right-back, Cucurella does after all have experience of operating in a back three for both Chelsea and Brighton. Whatever role Cucurella takes on under Maresca next season, the left-sided ace can flourish under his new boss having demonstrated just how good a player he is for both club and country in recent months.