Maresca Chelsea, Doue Man Utd and more

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Enzo Maresca will be the new Chelsea manager – unless something crazy happens in the next 48 hours. It will be a ‘here we go’ soon because the latest contacts between Maresca and Chelsea were super positive. Maresca wants to go to Chelsea and never had any doubts despite some reports suggesting that maybe he wants to stay at Leicester. Although he loves and respects Leicester, it’s been very clear ever since Chelsea entered this story that Maresca wants to be the next Chelsea manager.

Maresca believes in the Chelsea project around young players with a big future, he thinks it is a really exciting project. Meanwhile, Chelsea are convinced he’s a super talented coach and that’s why he’s a name appreciated by both directors and owners, all convinced he can be the man for present and future. Maresca’s obsession with ball possession, quality football, dominating the game, his knowledge of elite football despite being a young manager – all of this made the difference for Chelsea to pick him.

Talks are now really at the final stages, and it’s expected to happen soon. The salary is agreed and it’s just about the length of the contract. The feeling is that it could be a five-year contract, longer than they initially thought, and they are just discussing this final detail, but the feeling is that they are almost there. What’s missing is just an agreement between Chelsea and Leicester on compensation, also for Maresca’s staff, but it’s just a matter of days or maybe even hours and then everything will be done for Maresca to become the new Chelsea manager.

So, that will be ‘here we go’ soon and then it will continue to be a busy summer at Chelsea. It won’t be completely crazy but they will try to make smart things happen, including a new goalkeeper and I expect them to try for at least one new centre-back, but it could be two. I also expect Chelsea to be busy with the striker position, and I mentioned many times Benjamin Sesko, who is highly rated at Chelsea but also by others like Arsenal and Manchester United.

It’s important to clarify another big story on managers as Chelsea called Kieran McKenna to inform him that he was no longer in the race to become their manager. He also had the possibility to go to Brighton but they wanted an answer early this week, while he also had the possibility to wait and see what happened at Manchester United, with the club still reviewing and discussing internally what to do about Erik ten Hag.

But now, McKenna has decided to commit his future to Ipswich Town. He’s going to extend his contract – everything is almost ready for him to sign a new deal, which will be an important one with big money involved. So, there are no fresh contacts with Chelsea because he’s been informed he’s no longer in the race, and he will stay at Ipswich.

Credits to Ipswich Town on this one – they’ve been waiting and hoping, offering him an important contract. McKenna has decided to accept after Chelsea told him with direct call that he was out of the shortlist to become the new manager. For Brighton, a decision will be made soon on an alternative to become their next manager.

We’re at an important point of the story with the Manchester United manager situation. They are still talking internally about what to do with Erik ten Hag and it will take some time, but, again, McKenna is no longer on their list even if he was a name being considered.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also involved in the discussions and we know they have made contacts with several managers, holding talks with several agents to make sure they have options in case they decide to part ways with Ten Hag. Now it’s on Man United to make a decision and it’s important to note that the new owners will have a say.

Staying with United, we’ve seen them linked, along with many other clubs, with Rennes wonderkid Desire Doue, who is doing fantastic with his performances in Ligue 1.

Honestly, though, I could mention six or seven clubs interested in Doue – interest is strong, but it’s really early. So we have to be patient on this one. For sure, interest is there from several countries as he’s considered a top, top talent.

We’ve had a lot of stories about Xavi and I’ve already mentioned that I was not aware of any contacts with Chelsea, despite some rumours. There are now also some stories doing the rounds about Xavi’s disagreements with Barcelona over the future of some key players.

It’s been reported that the futures of Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo, both on loan at Barca from Atletico Madrid and Manchester City, respectively, but I don’t think this made the difference with the Xavi situation, there were other topics; not Felix and Cancelo.

In any case, now Barcelona board will welcome Hansi Flick in the city and will start meetings to discuss every player’s position and future. Cancelo and Felix want to stay at Barca, but it depends on the new manager now.

So, Felix could leave Atletico Madrid and another player I’ve recently reported on is Memphis Depay. There is no update yet on this as Depay is focused on the Euros, meanwhile his camp is working to find the best possible options but it’s still early stages on this one. Memphis wants to focus on the Euros, but it’s 100% sure that he will leave Atletico Madrid.

At the moment, Sergio Conceicao is not part of the conversation for English clubs, but he’s going to leave Porto – the decision has been made. It’s over for Conceicao at Porto under the new president, former Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Conceicao will be leaving Porto immediately and he has a big proposal from Marseille, so they are pushing and they really want to make this happen because they are convinced he could be the perfect candidate for their project.

It’s now on Conceicao and his agent to decide if they want to take this option, but he’s leaving Porto for sure, so let’s see where he ends up next.

Congratulations to Cristiano Ronaldo for making history with his 35 goals in the Saudi Pro League – he’s the first player to become top scorer in four different leagues, having already done it in La Liga, Serie A and the Premier League.

We’ve also had some interesting rumours about Ronaldo and Bayer Leverkusen because of his strong relationship with Xabi Alonso. They are good friends, but no – Leverkusen are not working on this deal, no one is working on signing Ronaldo because he is very happy at Al Nassr and is not planning to change.

Leverkusen also have completely different plans, so it’s not true that they’re preparing a bid for Ronaldo. That’s all there is to say on that – Ronaldo is super happy in Saudi and so he’s staying there.

One player to watch in Saudi, however, could be Karim Benzema. We already had rumours about him possibly moving on in January, and my understanding now is that Benzema’s camp will discuss with Al Ittihad as soon as they know the summer project – signings, what’s the plan with the manager, many things to decide. Nothing will be decided for Benzema before understanding what happens at Ittihad.

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