Enzo Maresca Profile & Career to Date – Just Who Is Chelsea’s New Manager?

Despite a flying finish to the season, Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea parted ways at the end of the 2023/24 campaign. The ex-Spurs and PSG boss is now the current favourite to be the next Manchester United manager – for all that Eric Ten Hag hasn’t actually been sacked yet. More concerning than the adventures of Pochettino – for Blues fans at least – was the question of who would step in to replace the outgoing boss. Would we be in for a protracted summer as Todd Boehly conducted an array of interviews? Or, did the Chelsea supremo always have someone in mind?

The latter scenario has proved to be closer to the mark because, less than ten days after the departure of Pochettino, Enzo Maresca has signed a five-year deal to become the new Chelsea manager. But why were the Blues board so keen to land for the former Leicester boss? In this article, we take a closer look at the 44-year-old Italian who is taking the brave step into the Stamford Bridge hot seat (or should that be ejector seat?!). First we’ll take a look back at where he’s from and where he’s been along the way.

Playing Career: Much Travelled Maresca – From Italy to England and Back

Marco's teams, part 1

Born in South West Italy, Maresca took the first steps of his footballing career when joining AC Milan as an eleven-year-old. Following a move to Cagliari at 14, a young Enzo opted to take up an entirely new challenge when moving from the youth to the professional ranks. Forgoing options in his homeland, the 18-year-old Maresca upped sticks for the glamourous lights of Birmingham to join West Bromwich Albion despite speaking very little English and no Brummie at all.

That move proved an inspired choice as, 47 appearances and five goals later, Maresca had caught the eye of no less a side than Juventus, whom he joined in 2000. Breaking into a side containing Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero, and Edgar Davids was never likely to be an easy task for the central/attacking midfielder – and so it proved, with Maresca’s first two seasons spent on loan at Bologna and Piacenza.

Nevertheless, before joining Fiorentina in 2004, Maresca appeared 37 times for the Old Lady, scoring four times – the most notable of which being a late equaliser in the Turin Derby, which he celebrated by running around the pitch impersonating a bull – a performance met with a less than enthusiastic response from fans of Torino (nicknamed The Bull). His spell in Fiorentina proved less eventful before Maresca embarked on the most productive spell of his playing career.

Success in Seville

Sevilla FC logoCalling time on his spell at I Viola, Maresca joined Sevilla for €2.5m in 2005 and soon proved a natural fit for the Spanish top flight, with his ability to read the game, his eye for a pass, and the timing of his runs into the area proving a key factor in the success which followed over the next three seasons.

In 2024, Sevilla may be renowned for their European success, but that certainly wasn’t the case in 2005. Ahead of that 2005/06 campaign, the Andalusian club were yet to win a European trophy of any description. That all changed as a Juande Ramos-led Sevilla marched to the UEFA Cup Final, where (inspired by a Maresca brace) they dispatched Middlesbrough 4-0.

Not done there, Sevilla thumped a Barcelona side containing Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Xavi, and Samuel Eto’o, 3-0 in the European Super Cup – Maresca again on the scoresheet with a late penalty. By the time Maresca departed Sevilla in 2009, his 96 appearances and 13 goals had earned him Winners’ Medals in the UEFA Cup (twice), UEFA Cup, Copa del Rey, and Supercopa de España.

Things Were Never So Good Again

Marco's teams, part two

Leaving Spain for Olympiakos during the Greek financial crisis and a period of managerial upheaval didn’t go to plan. Within a year, Maresca was back in Spain, this time with Malaga. Whilst never reaching the heights of his Sevilla days, Maresca helped the club survive during his first season before playing an influential role in 2011/12, as the club qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history. The switch to Malaga also saw Maresca contemplate becoming a coach for the first time, following a suggestion from manager Manuel Pellegrini.

The final lap of the Maresca playing career saw him return home for spells with Sampdoria, Palermo, and Hellas Verona – his most notable moment coming when scoring a goal for Palermo, which helped send Hellas Verona down, only to then sign for Hellas at the end of the season. The 10 February 2017 then saw a 37-year-old Maresca announce his retirement on his birthday.

Managerial Career

Maresca's teams as a manager

Having worked under such managerial names as Marcelo Lippi, Carlo Ancelotti, Zico, Juande Ramos, and Manuel Pellegrini during his playing career, Maresca had certainly received an enviable education as he stepped into the coaching ranks.

An Able Assistant

Keen to continue his educational experience, Maresca’s first three coaching roles saw him serve as Assistant Manager at Ascoli (2017), Sevilla (2017-18) and West Ham (2018-2019) – that latter role seeing him once again link up with Manuel Pellegrini.

Youthful Success

Following Pellegrini out of the West Ham exit door in 2019, Maresca was soon back in work – being handed control of the Manchester City U23 outfit. Making an immediate impression, Maresca led the young Citizens to a first-ever Premier League 2 title. Apprenticeship served, Maresca was ready to move into the senior managerial ranks.

Bump in the Road at Parma

Relegated, having finished rock bottom of the 2020/21 Serie A table, many expected Parma to bounce back at the first time of asking, with Maresca the man charged with leading the two-time UEFA Cup winners back to the top flight. However, not all plans come to fruition, and following a run of only four wins in his first 14 games, Maresca was dismissed before the end of November.

Despite that setback, Manchester City welcomed Maresca back with open arms, with Enzo serving as assistant to Pep Guardiola during the 2022/23 treble-winning campaign.

A Smash Hit at the King Power

Leicester City logoFollowing his disappointment in Italy, Maresca took on a similar assignment for his next job as the man in charge. Relegated in 2022/23, Leicester City were favourites to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking, with Maresca brought in to replace the outgoing Dean Smith. This time, he delivered.

Despite one of the hottest Championships in years – with both Ipswich Town and Leeds United reaching the 90-point mark – the Maresca-led Foxes came out on top. Building on a possession-heavy playing style, reminiscent of a certain coach with whom Maresca appears to share a barber, Leicester held their nerve to end the season on an impressive 97 points, with the second-best goalscoring record in the division, stingiest defence, and a goal difference 10 better than their nearest rival.

Given the pedigree of the managers he has worked under and with, in combination with the attractive blend of style and results displayed by the Foxes, Maresca appears more than worthy of his shot in the Premier League. If reports are to be believed, that opportunity will arrive not in the blue of the East Midlands club but rather the blue of billionaire Boehly’s West London outfit. Where does that leave the Foxes? Well, with a big hole to fill. Maresca will be a tough act to follow… perhaps they’ll try to persuade Claudio Ranieri to come out of retirement.