Enzo Maresca set to bring back ex-Chelsea player as Stamford Bridge appointment nears

The imminent appointment of Enzo Maresca as the new Chelsea manager looks set to see a familiar face return to Stamford Bridge.

Standard Sport understands that Leicester’s Championship-title winning boss has won the race to succeed Mauricio Pochettino, who left the Blues by mutual consent last week after only one season in charge despite engineering an impressive late turnaround that culminated in a sixth-place Premier League finish and European qualification for next term.

Chelsea have been granted permission by Leicester to speak to Maresca, with discussions to continue in Marbella - where the Italian is currently on holiday after successfully guiding the Foxes back to the top-flight in his first full season as a head coach - as the two clubs also look to agree a compensation package in the region of £10million.

It is understood that Maresca, a former assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham, is likely to bring a nucleus of Leicester backroom staff with him to Stamford Bridge, a group that would include right-hand man and ex-Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

Familiar face: Willy Caballero spent four years at Chelsea between 2017-21 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Familiar face: Willy Caballero spent four years at Chelsea between 2017-21 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

The Argentine is already very familiar with life in west London, having spent four years as a Chelsea player between 2017-21.

Caballero initially joined the Blues under Antonio Conte on a free transfer after three years at City, making 38 appearances across all competitions as a veteran back-up to the likes of Thibaut Courtois and then Kepa Arrizabalaga before later falling to third-choice after the arrival of Edouard Mendy under Frank Lampard.

He eventually left Chelsea following the expiration of his contract in the summer of 2021, having won the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup.

He also started in the 2019/20 FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal at Wembley and was the goalkeeper that Maurizio Sarri wanted to send on for the penalty shootout in the 2018/19 Carabao Cup final loss to Manchester City, only for Kepa to infamously refuse to come off in the latter stages of extra time.

After leaving Chelsea, Caballero, who also earned five senior international caps for Argentina during a playing career that lasted for 22 years and also took in spells at Malaga, Elche and Boca Juniors, also spent two years as a back-up at Southampton before leaving last summer to become Maresca’s assistant with Leicester.

Other staff members brought into Leicester by Maresca include first-team coach Danny Walker, goalkeeping coach Michele De Bernardin, fitness coach Marcos Alvarez and analyst Javier Molina Caballero.