Enzo Maresca: Celtic manager candidate, 'invaluable asset' to Pep Guardiola, Robert De Zerbi similarities
Speculation has begun over the Australian’s replacement after two seasons in which he won five trophies. Former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers emerged as the favourite with the Northern Irishman available having parted company with Leicester City in April. He had spoken previously about being open to a return to the club where he won back-to-back trebles. It remains to be seen whether he is keen to jump back into management so soon after his time with the Foxes who were relegated.
One of the most prominent names mentioned to be in the running for the post is Enzo Maresca. Now, the name may be very familiar to Celtic fans. That’s because he was said to be a candidate the last time the club were appointing a manager in 2021. Eddie Howe was the initial favourite but when that deal wasn’t done the Italian was reported to be a target before the club opted for Postecoglou, bringing him in from Yokohama F. Marinos.
Maresca, whose odds have been slashed to be the next Celtic manager, is one of Pep Guardiola’s key lieutenants as Manchester City go in search of the treble on Saturday in the Champions League final against Inter Milan having already won the Premier League and FA Cup. The 43-year-old returned to the club last year as an assistant coach following the departure of Juanma Lilo. City's director of football Txiki Begiristain noted he would be an “invaluable asset to Pep and his team”. He had left a lasting impression having guided the club’s ‘Elite Development Squad’ to the Premier League 2 title in 2021 before leaving for his first managerial job at first-team level. He took over at Parma in the summer of 2021 but lasted just 14 games, winning four of those.
‘Like a father’
It wasn’t until later in his career that Maresca was convinced to become a coach, working under Manuel Pellegrini at Malaga. The Chilean thought he would be good at it. “I always say that in terms of an experience about football, Manuel for me was like a father,” he told the Manchester City website. “As a coach in terms of relationships with the players, handling and managing the situation, for me he is one of the best.”
High praise indeed for someone who played under the likes of Juande Ramos, Marcello Lippi, Zico and Carlo Ancelotti during a player career which saw him play in four countries – including a stint at West Brom in his formative years – and win a number of trophies, including Serie A with Juventus and two UEFA Cups with Sevilla.
One of his key friendships in football is with Roberto De Zerbi. The Brighton manager speaks highly of his countryman and his “strong personality".
"We are similar characters,” De Zerbi said. “He knows what he wants. We have similar ideas about how the game should be played, the style of training. To be aggressive on the pitch in terms of the attitude of the player and that you have an organisation defined on the pitch.”
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