Chelsea stars dismayed by Mauricio Pochettino exit already excited by Enzo Maresca ideas

Chelsea players are excited about the prospect of working with Enzo Maresca — and believe his tactical acumen can help them thrive.

Maresca is finalising his appointment and the move for the 44-year-old Italian has been welcomed by the squad, as they feel his style of football will suit them.

Chelsea midfielder Cesare Casadei worked under Maresca on loan at Leicester last season and has spoken to his team-mates in glowing terms about him.

Players have also spoken to friends and counterparts at both Leicester and Manchester City, where Maresca worked alongside Pep Guardiola, and his appointment has generated excitement among the squad, given all the reports have been extremely positive.

Maresca has been characterised as a players’ coach, in terms of understanding what makes the new generation tick and what younger players in particular need to thrive, physically and mentally.

Chelsea players were said to have been dismayed by the departure of Mauricio Pochettino, having felt he had turned a corner in working out how to get the best out of them.

But they were also not blind to some of the issues that had developed between Pochettino and the Chelsea board. And with Maresca set to take the helm at Stamford Bridge, the mood in the squad has lifted markedly.

Chelsea youngster Cesare Casadei worked with Enzo Maresca on loan at Leicester (Getty Images)
Chelsea youngster Cesare Casadei worked with Enzo Maresca on loan at Leicester (Getty Images)

The players are understood to believe that his preferred tactical plans can help them thrive and that his ideas will prove a good fit. Maresca’s favoured 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations shift to a back three in possession, with inverted full-backs creating the potential for an extra man to operate higher up the midfield.

Co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart had identified Maresca as a leading candidate to take Chelsea forward in part because of that approach. And as word has started to filter through in the past few days among the players that Maresca could be heading to Chelsea, that choice has found fast approval.

Maresca is known to push his players hard, but has always been at pains to explain the reasoning behind his approach. He is thought to want his players to know exactly why certain elements of training and preparation are carried out, so they are aware in advance of the benefits.

The former West Brom, Juventus and Sevilla midfielder believes that open attitude allows him to take players with him on his process, with that inclusivity also helping to build strong bonds.

Chelsea players will need trust in their incoming head coach as he negotiates a busy pre-season, including a US tour, before jumping straight into another gruelling Premier League campaign.

The board fully believe that the squad is capable of a top-four finish, but will also chase further new recruits this summer.

Chelsea are set to prioritise a new goalkeeper, centre-back, left-back and forward this summer.

They want to move forward with a head coach who is eager to get into the granular work of coaching on the training pitches — and Maresca fits that bill.

The players are said to be excited about the scope for the clear, focused direction that having a tracksuit coach as a figurehead can bring.