Chelsea have appointed Leicester boss Enzo Maresca as their new manager on a five-year deal to replace the departed Mauricio Pochettino.

The Italian, 44, caught the eye of Chelsea chiefs after leading Leicester to the Championship title last season in his first campaign at the King Power Stadium.

Several candidates were linked with the Chelsea job following Pochettino's exit after just one season in charge.

Former Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi, Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna and Brentford's Thomas Frank were reportedly in contention before the west London club decided on Maresca.

"We are delighted to welcome Enzo to Chelsea," Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley, Chelsea's co-sporting directors, said in a statement on Monday.

"He has proven himself to be an excellent coach capable of delivering impressive results with an exciting and identifiable style.

"Enzo has deeply impressed us in our discussions leading up to his appointment. His ambitions and work ethic align with those of the club."

Maresca, formerly on Pep Guardiola's staff at Manchester City, will begin his new role on July 1 on a five-year contract, with a club option of a further year.

"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."

Tough season

Pochettino left Chelsea by mutual consent last month despite a strong end to a turbulent season, in which they spent much of the campaign languishing in mid-table in the Premier League.

The Blues recovered to win their final five games of the season and earn a place in the Europa Conference League.

They also reached the final of the League Cup and the FA Cup semi-finals.

Maresca, who had a brief spell in charge of Italian side Parma in 2021, will be the sixth coach to have managed the first team since Todd Boehly's Clearlake Capital consortium bought the club two years ago.

Chelsea have spent more than £1 billion ($1.3 billion) on signings since Clearlake took over ownership from Roman Abramovich in May 2022.

Under the stewardship of the Russian billionaire they became one of the top sides in England and Europe, winning multiple Premier League titles and lifting the Champions League twice.

But they have been trophyless for the past two seasons under a succession of managers including Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Pochettino.

Leicester, who are back in the Premier League after one season in the second tier, said they were "disappointed that Enzo has decided at this stage that he no longer wants to be part of our vision.

"He leaves with the appreciation of everyone at the club for his work in helping us to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League during the 2023/24 season."