Leicester City Closing In On Chess Master Enzo Maresca From Man City As New Boss

Enzo Maresca wrote a thesis titled 'Football and Chess' when graduating from his Italian FA coaching course
13:00, 16 Jun 2023

Leicester City are reportedly closing in on the appointment of Manchester City assistant Enzo Maresca as their new manager.

The Italian coach is looking to follow in the footsteps of former City assistant and current Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta in spreading his wings and going on his own managerial path. Maresca has gathered a valuable year’s worth of experience at Guardiola’s side as he helped Man City claim a historic treble

The 43-year-old is no stranger to the demands of the Championship because it was where he began his playing career with West Bromwich Albion in 1998 as an Italian out of his comfort zone.

As a player, Maresca was a versatile midfielder who could essentially play anywhere he was instructed. He had such a tactical awareness of the game that it made him a popular figure wherever he went, particularly at Juventus and Sevilla. He possessed all the attributes of a midfield player who would thrive in Guardiola’s system, which is why the master tactician headhunted him to join the City project twice.


After impressing the Spaniard as Manuel Pellegrini’s assistant at West Ham United, Guardiola was able to get City to bring Maresca in as the manager of the club’s development side and he led them to the Premier League 2 title in 2020-21. Guardiola widely praised him for the way he had overseen City’s youngsters including Liam Delap and Cole Palmer, who is currently a sporadic first team player.

When City defeated Wycombe Wanderers 6-1 in the Carabao Cup third round in 2021-22, several youngsters gave good accounts of themselves, including Palmer and Romeo Lavia, now of Southampton. Guardiola thanked Maresca in the post-match press conference, saying: “Last season he did an incredible job with these players. An incredible job. I know it because we worked together in training many times and I saw them, the way they play, their understanding of the game. They are well educated.”


By this time, Maresca was experiencing his first command with Parma and was tasked with getting the club back into Serie A at the first attempt. Despite having Gianluigi Buffon and Franco Vazquez in his ranks, Maresca was let go after 13 league games with just four wins to his name. 

You cannot read too much into that, though. His successor at the Ennio Tardini, Giuseppe Iachni, lasted only 12 matches more than Maresca, and it speaks volumes that Guardiola and City wanted to bring him back to the Etihad Stadium in a closer capacity for last year’s momentous campaign. Guardiola prized Maresca’s counsel, just as he did with Arteta before him.

Speaking about Arteta in January, Guardiola told Reuters: “I don’t know my impact on him but his influence on me was so important to become a better manager.” Despite his vast success, Guardiola still considers himself a pupil who is eager to learn from those around him.

He lured Maresca to return to the Etihad last summer to replace Juan Lillo as his assistant. City had to contend with several European clubs who were looking to land the Italian as their first team manager. He exudes intelligence when it comes to football and that is why he is a wanted man. It’s what made him such a desirable asset for Guardiola when seeking a new number two last summer.

Italian FA coaching graduates are required to complete a thesis at the Coverciano centre and Maresca’s piece was most intriguing. Titled ‘Football and Chess’, he explained the many similarities between the two tactical approaches.

Speaking about it to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Maresca said: “The most important is positional play and strategy. For a coach it’s important to have the mentality of a chess player: develop a plan, study counter moves, choose the arrangement of the pieces.”

Leicester supporters will be rightfully excited about Maresca’s arrival at the King Power Stadium. Not only will he look to rebuild the team with the hope of getting them back to the Premier League, he will want to entertain while doing so. 

We saw former City legend Vincent Kompany light up the second tier with Burnley in 2022-23, so could another key Manchester City figure be about to do the same in 2023-24?

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