LONDON: Chelsea have appointed Leicester manager Enzo Maresca as their new boss on a five-year contract with the option of an extra year.

The Italian replaces Mauricio Pochettino, who left by mutual consent on 21 May after just one season at Stamford Bridge.

Maresca, 44, took charge of the Foxes in June 2023 and led them to the Championship title last term.

“To join Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in the world, is a dream for any coach,” he said. “It is why I am so excited by this opportunity.

“I look forward to working with a very talented group of players and staff to develop a team that continues the club’s tradition of success and makes our fans proud.”

Maresca, who will begin his new role on 1 July, is Chelsea’s sixth managerial appointment in five years and the fourth since American investor Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital bought the club in May 2022.

Chelsea endured a mixed 2023-24 but won their final five games to end the campaign in sixth and qualify for the Europa Conference League.

The Blues also finished runners-up in the Carabao Cup and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Several candidates were on a shortlist following Pochettino’s departure, including former Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi, Ipswich boss Kieran McKenna and Brentford’s Thomas Frank.

Chelsea’s co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart said Maresca “deeply impressed us in our discussions leading up to his appointment” and his “ambitions and work ethic align with those of the club”.

The Chelsea players not on international duty this summer are scheduled to return to the club for pre-season under Maresca on 4 July as they prepare for a tour of the United States.

Maresca’s coaching staff at Leicester, including former Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero, will work alongside him at Stamford Bridge.