Enzo Maresca’s release clause revealed as Chelsea prepare for talks with Leicester boss

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca is firmly on Chelsea’s radar (Picture: Getty)

Chelsea will ask Leicester for permission to talk to Enzo Maresca as they step up their pursuit for Mauricio Pochettino’s successor.

The Blues announced on Tuesday evening that Pochettino had departed the club by mutual consent, despite the Argentine recovering from a woeful start to the Premier League season to secure European football with a sixth-placed finish.

The 52-year-old – who still had 12 months remaining on his contract in west London – also reached the final of the Carabao Cup with Chelsea, where they were beaten by Liverpool, and the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

But Chelsea’s hierarchy acted quickly after the final-day win over Bournemouth and the managerial merry-go-round begins again, with the club burning through five separate head coaches since Todd Boehly’s takeover in 2022.

According to The Guardian, Chelsea initially drew up an eight-man shortlist of potential replacements for Pochettino, with Maresca, Kieran McKenna, Thomas Frank, Sebastian Hoeness, Ruben Amorim, Michel, Marco Silva and Roberto De Zerbi all under consideration.

This has since been whittled down to just a few and Ipswich head coach McKenna has emerged as the frontrunner for the job, with Chelsea now ‘confident’ of hiring the Northern Irishman, 38, considered one of the finest young coaches in the English game.

However, Manchester United are also sniffing around McKenna and Chelsea have turned to Maresca as they consider their options. It’s claimed there is ‘strong support’ for the 44-year-old, who is ‘admired’ by the recruitment team at Stamford Bridge,

Maresca steered the Foxes back into the Premier League this season (Picture: Getty)

The report suggests that Leicester’s possible points deduction upon their return to the Premier League could come into Maresca’s thinking, with Chelsea set to ask the Foxes for permission to speak to the Italian.

Maresca, who took charge of Leicester last summer, has a release clause in the region of £8.5million at the King Power Stadium.

A deal for McKenna, meanwhile, would likely come much cheaper for Chelsea given he has a release clause of around £4m.

It remains to be seen which candidate will be in charge come the start of next season but it’s understood the club are aiming to appoint Pochettino’s successor by the end of next week.

McKenna is the frontrunner to take over the reins from Pochettino (Picture: Getty)

After being named the LMA Manager of the Year, McKenna was quizzed on the links to Chelsea and Manchester United and insisted ‘speculation’ was inevitable given Ipswich’s recent success.

‘Look, the club has had such a positive season and has such a positive future ahead,’ McKenna – who has won back-to-back promotions with Ipswich – told Sky Sports.

‘We’ve achieved so much, it’s been an incredible two years. When you have success like that there always comes speculation and things like that, we’ve seen that every summer.

But I know how much everyone is looking forward to the season, the club is in a fantastic path and everyone is just really looking forward to the season ahead.’

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Pushed on whether an offer from Chelsea, Brighton or United difficult to ignore, McKenna replied: ‘Again, when you do well – as a manger or as a player – there’s always going to be speculation.

‘I know what we’ve achieved isn’t a normal thing so there’s always going to be speculation. But that’s not where my focus is… tonight is about what we’ve achieved over the last couple of seasons.

‘It’s been a wonderful couple of years so tonight is about celebrating that. I know everyone is looking forward to next season and I know the club is going to be in a really good place going into that season.’

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