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Olise signs, Guehi move, Gallagher dropped - Enzo Maresca dream Chelsea XI after three transfers

Enzo Maresca at Leicester
-Credit: (Image: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)


From Mauricio Pochettino's freedom-based football to Enzo Maresca and his Pep Guardiola-ingrained discipline, Chelsea are set to undergo yet another transformation this summer. With the new manager coming in a fresh style and approach will be on show at Stamford Bridge yet again.

Although the body of work for Maresca is small, his principles and approach are clear to see. Operating with a 4-3-3 on paper, shifting towards the now more and more common 3-2-5 in-possession shape, and often pressing from a 4-1-4-1 basis, Maresca is vastly different from his predecessor at Chelsea.

Whereas Pochettino focused more on allowing players to express themselves, often geared towards Cole Palmer making the best decisions in attack but via empowerment and opportunity, Maresca is a build-up-heavy coach. He works in overloads across the field, filling the five channels of attack with his players, drawing teams on and cutting through them with drilled passing sequences.

Given it is such a move away from what Chelsea have been used to - with shades of Maurizio Sarri rather than Frank Lampard despite the Championship background - there are understandable questions over just how it will look. Using the current squad it is possible to create an intriguing blueprint for Maresca's best XI, but in reality there will be changes.

Here, football.london takes a look at how Chelsea could look after the summer window.

Diogo Costa: The goalkeeper is a key part of Maresca's system as it plays such a big part in progressing the ball from the back. Neither of Chelsea's current senior options excel with their feet and so a new No.1 is understood to be a priority for the coming months.

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

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In Costa there is one of the top performing 'keepers across Europe. Having not yet made the move to an elite club, the Porto gloveman remains in demand and has been linked with the Blues consistently in the past.

It is said that he could cost as much as £85million. Given his impressive displays in the Champions League on the ball as well as stopping it, there may not be room for negotiation if Chelsea want this keystone of their side.

Reece James: Although Malo Gusto played more than James last season and did an excellent job there is just no escaping that the Chelsea captain is first-choice when fit. As well as being able to invert into midfield when needed, James can also play at right centre-back to offer total flexibility for Maresca.

Marc Guehi: The rest of the backline is tough to call. Chelsea are willing to let Trevoh Chalobah go having already seen Thiago Silva depart. Axel Disasi is possibly the weakest of the remaining options, whilst Wesley Fofana is a serious injury risk, though maybe the strongest when fit.

It makes sense, then, that the club are looking at Tosin Adarabioyo as a possible free arrival from Fulham. If they were to spend some money on upgrading then Guehi is a readymade option with leadership qualities and Premier League experience.

Levi Colwill: It could be Colwill or Benoit Badiashile here but due to his ability of playing left-back when needed, it is the former that gets the nod. Chelsea are blessed with options in defence but organising them into a strong unit will be the big challenge.

Alphonso Davies: Long-linked with a move to west London, the Bayern Munich speedster has been expected to join Real Madrid this summer but nothing is completed yet. Chelsea and Manchester City have been touted as two of the remaining clubs interested in taking advantage of the delay.

If it's not going to be Ian Maatsen then Davies offers a genuine presence at left-back as well as attacking intent moving forward. Just look at his goal against Madrid in the Champions League.

Enzo Fernandez: Chelsea's master passer will have a key but interesting role in this team. Does he play in the pivot moving the ball forward or push up to become a No.8? His best role is perhaps in-between due to his range on the ball. Either way he plays and will be integral to how things turn out.

Moises Caicedo: The same can be said of Caicedo. He looks suited to being the man popping passes around his own box in build-up but did start to show why his presence further up the field could be suited for Chelsea. The alchemy between the pair of £100million midfielders is crucial.

Cole Palmer: This is where it gets interesting. Because Maresca wishes to play with five across the front - one surely has to be an attacking full-back given the midfield conundrum - Palmer may not be able to take the right-wing spot he made his own. On paper he can be the No.10 and most advanced midfielder in a 4-3-3, it's where he ended last season. But to make room for the next player there will be a slight shift.

Michael Olise: The new winger for Chelsea in this team. Cutting in onto his left foot and beaming passes around the field, Crystal Palace's attacker is one of the most exciting players around.

football.london understands that Chelsea hold an interest in the Frenchman even if it's not seen as likely. Getting Olise would be a transformative piece of business though.

Christopher Nkunku: Balancing the side on the left is Nkunku. He would need to take a slightly more central role in the half-space, theoretically, but that is no problem.

Nkunku is so good at linking play that popping up between the lines both vertically and horizontally will make him a nightmare to mark. Keeping him fit and getting him the ball will be game-changers for Maresca.

Nicolas Jackson: Finishing the team off is Chelsea's impressive No.9. With 14 non-penalty Premier League goals last season he had a strong first year in England. Able to drop deep to overload in midfield as well as run behind, Jackson has a bit of everything that Maresca will need.

Possible Chelsea XI under Maresca with transfers: Costa; James, Guehi, Colwill, Davies; Fernandez, Caicedo; Olise, Palmer, Nkunku, Jackson.

In possession it will look a bit closer to this:

And then when not on the ball:

The big question for Maresca is how he provides enough cover for his defence in this system. Although Caicedo is a willing runner and Jackson is a rallying presser, Palmer with Fernandez in midfield is not the most robust.

Gallagher would offer a different element to the team but 1) could yet be sold this summer, and 2) would take away from the flair and creativity moving forward. It is a dilemma that many would dream of having ultimately but Maresca will now be tasked with finding the answer to.