Football Features

Chelsea transfers: The tasks facing new Blues boss Enzo Maresca

By Will Evans

Published: 13:32, 6 June 2024 | Updated: 13:22, 12 June 2024

Enzo Maresca’s appointment as Chelsea boss was confirmed earlier this week — and there is plenty for him to sink his teeth into.

The Blues need to make a number of key decisions about new signings and potential exits ahead of next season, as they bid to improve on last term’s sixth-place finish.

Meanwhile, financial fair play challenges and the additional demands of Conference League football will add further complications for the Italian tactician to navigate.

We take a look at the transfer-related tasks awaiting Maresca at Stamford Bridge.

Academy graduate exits

Chelsea’s Conference League qualification means they now need to comply with both the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules (PSR) and UEFA’s financial sustainability regulations (FSR).

The club are reportedly confident that they do not need to sell anyone before the 30th June accounting deadline, but any homegrown player sales are nonetheless likely to appeal from an economic point of view.

The primary candidate for an exit is Conor Gallagher, with his contract expiring next summer amid interest from Aston Villa.

Maresca will need to assess if he can live without the 24-year-old’s leadership and ball-winning qualities, after he regained possession an eye-watering 99 times in the middle third during Premier League matches last term.

And the former Leicester City manager will have similar decisions to make on Borussia Dortmund loanee Ian Maatsen, Trevoh Chalobah and Armando Broja, who would all represent pure profit on the books.

Their departures could result in a significantly increased budget in the transfer market.

Surprise redemptions?

As well as academy graduates, Maresca must also reflect on the futures of Chelsea’s previously unwanted stars.

The writing looks to be on the wall for Romelu Lukaku — despite his contract running until June 2026 — but the Blues’ new boss may have other ideas, particularly if the 31-year-old Belgian impresses at Euro 2024.

After all, Lukaku did net 13 Serie A goals from an xG of just 9.83 last season, in a Roma team that struggled under Jose Mourinho in the campaign’s opening months.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, 29, is in a similar boat, though the club hierarchy may insist he is sold, with just one year remaining on his current deal.

New additions

Co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart are primarily in charge of Chelsea’s recruitment, but they will seek advice from Maresca when it comes to departures and new signings.

The 44-year-old favoured a 4-3-3 system with Leicester City, as his side looked to dominate possession and press high up the pitch.

Only Southampton (588.86) completed more passes than their 548.87 per 90 in the Championship last season, while the Foxes ranked first for possession regains in the attacking third with five per 90.

Chelsea must ensure that any additions fit into that footballing philosophy, with a new striker and a centre-back high on the Blues’ wish list.

A deal for Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo, 26, on a free transfer appears close to completion, so their striker search is likely to take priority.

One name who would fit the bill is Sporting CP’s Viktor Gyokeres.

The 26-year-old won possession more times in the attacking third than anyone else in Europe’s elite leagues last season (43), as well as scoring a staggering 29 Primeira Liga goals.

A player of his calibre appears perfect for Maresca’s tactical set-up.