Enzo Maresca can follow in Pep Guardiola footsteps to make most of Mauricio Pochettino decision

Chelsea head coach Enzo Maresca
-Credit: (Image: Copa)

Enzo Maresca will get to sit down with his new squad at the start of next month with the newly-appointed Chelsea head coach officially beginning his role on July 1.

The Italian, who signed a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge to replace Mauricio Pochettino at the helm, is excited to begin work with the Blues after leaving Leicester City. Despite clinching the Championship title with the Foxes last season, Maresca remains a fairly unknown quantity when it comes to football management. The job he is taking with Chelsea is just his third in senior football.

The 44-year-old coach worked under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City in the Citizens' infamous treble-winning season. His close ties with Guardiola have inevitably seen comparisons between the two and their respective playing styles.

During his time with Leicester, Maresca liked his full-backs to invert - something Guardiola has been doing frequently at the Etihad Stadium over the last few seasons. It is nothing new at Chelsea, though, with Pochettino doing similar in the latter stages of his one season with the club.

Marc Cucurella flourished in the inverted left-back role in the last few games of the campaign. So much so, the Spaniard, who is currently in Germany with the Spain squad for Euro 2024, believes it was his "best form" since moving to Stamford Bridge for £60million in 2022.

"Changing my role has been nice," Cucurella said. "I try to do whatever I can to help the side and if I play in more positions and it helps the team, I'm happy because I have more possibilities to play.

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"I think first in the first part of the season, I played right-back as well and as always, I'll try to do my best to help the team and to win the game. Whenever I'm on the pitch, I'm happy to help out but for sure I like to play this position [inverted left-back].

"I'm confident to go away with the national side. Coming into the tournament, I think I have been playing very well.

"I think this is my best form since coming to Chelsea. I think last season was a little tough and the start of the season a little bit as well.

"Then I had the injury and I had to stop playing for a few months. After the injury, I feel very good. I feel I have played at a good level and I'm happy to show the qualities I have because, sometimes it has been difficult."

It has not always been easy for Cucurella at Chelsea. A lot was expected of him when he made the big-money move almost two years ago but he, for the most part, has failed to live up to the expectation.

However, towards the end of last season, he was one of the side's most consistent performers under Pochettino. With Maresca having a heavy reliance on his full-backs coming into the middle of the pitch, the Spain international surely fits the bill for the new Chelsea boss.

"I feel very good and I'm excited for the future with Chelsea," Cucurella continued. "I'm feeling very strong. I'm very happy and I have a lot of confidence.

"Playing football is one of the best things I can do in my life. And to play for this club is just amazing!"