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Enzo Maresca to Chelsea: Behind the scenes of Eghbali effort, £10m fee and new boss' request

Enzo Maresca
-Credit: (Image: Daniel Chesterson/Offside)


In the wider scale of things, Enzo Maresca to Chelsea was barely a saga. Instead, it was dealt with swiftly by the club as they replaced Mauricio Pochettino less than two weeks after the Argentine left Stamford Bridge by mutual consent.

Chelsea confirmed the appointment of Maresca on Monday afternoon but the news was not a surprise to anyone. The deal had been agreed for days. The club's co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley flew to Marbella last week to finalise the appointment of Maresca, football.london understands, after being so impressed with the Italian during initial conversations over the phone.

Behdad Eghbali, the club's co-owner, was crucial in those initial conversations where he spoke with Maresca to explain the project and what Chelsea wanted from him. Maresca, who won the Championship in his debut season with Leicester City, was said to have been knowledgeable about the current crop of Chelsea players and that is something which impressed Eghbali a lot.

football.london was told Eghbali worked 'tirelessly' and 'relentlessly' to get the initial groundwork done to bring the 44-year-old in as the new permanent head coach. He then handed over the reins to Stewart and Winstanley to fly to Marbella and finalise proceedings.

The deal was struck on Friday with a few minor things to sort out before both Chelsea and Leicester could make it official. As a whole, though, the talks went extremely smoothly and the process was viewed as straightforward by all parties.

Chelsea were willing to pay Leicester the £10million release clause for Maresca's services. This meant that when the Italian made it clear he had an interest in moving to Stamford Bridge, the newly-promoted Foxes were unable to do too much to stop him, despite their wishes for him to lead them in their first season back in the Premier League.

READ MORE: Chelsea confirm Enzo Maresca appointment to replace Mauricio Pochettino as head coach

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Chelsea were after a head-coach with a possession-based, front-foot style of football and Maresca certainly ticks those boxes. His style of play, which many believe to be inspired by former colleague Pep Guardiola, was implemented on his Leicester team very early on during his reign at the King Power Stadium and the Foxes thrived in their superb promotion-clinching season.

The Blues are hoping Maresca will be able to have a similar impact during his early days at Stamford Bridge, but the club's hierarchy are prepared to allow the Italian time to build. He was seen as the outstanding candidate by all those in power at Chelsea despite initial interest in several other managers, too.

The club conducted a thorough process to find the right man. In the end, the two sporting directors and the ownership group were all in agreement that Maresca was the right man to spearhead their long-term project after carefully considering all of the options available, football.london understands.

Maresca is excited to get going at Chelsea. The former Leicester boss is understood to be impressed with the balance of the squad he will inherit when he begins work at the beginning of next month and he is keen to meet the players so he can go through his system and style of play.

Maresca has asked for the data department at Cobham to provide extensive performance analysis on the first-team and the academy so he can get to know his players better. Likewise, the newly-appointed head coach has requested information on everyone he will work with at Chelsea's training ground.

Chelsea believe Maresca has a 'champion's mentality' and that is one of several factors that set him apart from the other candidates, football.london understands. At one point, there was a four-man shortlist but it was quite quickly decided that Maresca was the coach they wanted.

Kieran McKenna was strongly considered but Chelsea preferred Maresca to the Ipswich Town boss, who has recently signed a contract extension at Portman Road. Roberto De Zerbi, Thomas Frank and Sebastian Hoeness were also options for the Blues.

Vincent Kompany was also on the club's radar for quite some time, football.london understands, but it became quickly apparent that he was on his way to Bayern Munich to replace Thomas Tuchel. Make no bones about it, though: Chelsea feel they have their man in Maresca.

The fact they have given him a five-year deal - with the option to make it six - shows just how much faith and support they are willing to put in the Italian. It is simply one the club's ownership group cannot afford to get wrong.