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How Enzo Maresca first-ever Chelsea XI could look with new signing starting, Nkunku role change

Chelsea head coach Enzo Maresca
-Credit: (Image: Warren Little)


Chelsea have another busy summer ahead of them on and off the field as they begin life under newly-appointed head coach Enzo Maresca.

After a thorough search process, the Blues landed their first-choice managerial target earlier this week with Maresca putting pen-to-paper on a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge. Maresca will take his Chelsea squad to the United States as the club prepare to tour America once again.

However, for Maresca's first game in charge on July 24, against Wrexham at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, Chelsea could be without several key players due to international commitments. With the Euros and Copa America both happening this summer, it is set to be a hectic summer of football for the Blues squad.

At the upcoming Euros, Chelsea are expected to have five players representing their countries. Conor Gallagher and Cole Palmer will be resting after playing for England, while Mykhailo Mudryk, Marc Cucurella and Armando Broja are all likely to be doing the same after representing Ukraine, Spain and Albania, respectively.

Meanwhile, at Copa America, Chelsea are set to have Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo representing Argentina and Ecuador in the South American competition. So, with a host of key players set to be elsewhere while Chelsea are in the United States, Bobby Vincent takes a look at how Maresca could line up in his first match.

Goalkeeper

We do not really know where Maresca's head is at in terms of the goalkeeper situation. The 44-year-old may well re-introduce Robert Sanchez to the side for next season despite Djordje Petrovic replacing the Spaniard from December onwards last term.

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There have been several reports stating that Maresca is a big fan of Sanchez, who had an up and down time in between the posts when he was on the pitch during his debut season for Chelsea. So for the purposes of this article, we will go with Sanchez.

Defenders

Reece James is suspended for the first three matches of the season following his red card at Brighton towards the end of the 2023/24 campaign. But Maresca will be keen to get him some minutes and keep building up his fitness in pre-season.

Meanwhile, soon-to-be Chelsea defender Tosin Adarabioyo could well get a run out. The 26-year-old had his medical at Cobham on Tuesday, football.london understands, with the centre-back set to sign on a free transfer after seeing his contract at Fulham expire.

Alongside him, we could see the return of Levi Colwill. We have not seen Colwill out on the pitch in quite some time now and after being snubbed by England for their Euros campaign, Chelsea will be keen to utilise him and build up his fitness this summer in the States.

Likewise, Ben Chilwell was not selected for the Three Lions' squad either. With Cucurella away with Spain, it looks as if the Chelsea vice-captain could feature heavily during the club's summer tour.

Midfielders

With Fernandez and Caicedo on international duty, and Gallagher recovering from the Euros, we could see some youngsters have a chance in the US. Cesare Casadei played under Maresca during the Italian's loan spell at Leicester, so he could partner Andrey Santos.

Santos is expected to go out on loan once again with Strasbourg said to be interested in re-signing the midfielder this summer. However, the 20-year-old will be keen to impress the new boss while he can during pre-season - and this could be the perfect game to do it.

Attackers

Palmer, Chelsea's Player of the Season, will be resting and relaxing after representing England at the Euros. This could give the chance to Christopher Nkunku to play in the No.10 role - a position we saw him used in while Chelsea toured the States last pre-season.

On the wings, there could be scope for Noni Madueke and Raheem Sterling to be used on the right and left-hand side, respectively. Diego Moreira and Angelo Gabriel will be hoping to get some minutes, too, after their loan spells in hope to impress the new boss.

Broja will surely have time off after representing Albania, leaving not too many options up top. Nicolas Jackson is the obvious candidate, but we could perhaps see some minutes for Deivid Washington, too, and potentially a new striker should one be signed beforehand.

Possible Chelsea lineup: Sanchez; James, Tosin, Colwill; Chilwell; Casadei, Santos; Madueke, Nkunku, Sterling; Jackson.