Exclusive: Manchester City ‘won’t stand in way’ of Celtic-linked Enzo Maresca as manager hunt intensifies

The well-respected Italian coach is currently a front-runner to land the Celtic job.

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As Celtic’s search to find Ange Postecoglou’s successor continues, GlasgowWorld understands that Manchester City would ‘not stand in the way’ of assistant manager Enzo Maresca who has been heavily linked with the vacant Parkhead job.

The 43-year-old Italian, who is currently No.2 to Pep Guardiola at the Etihad, emerged as a leading candidate to take over the reins in Glasgow’s East End earlier this week with speculation over who could replace Tottenham-bound Postecoglou intensifying.

Maresca reportedly has the “backing” of several members of the Hoops board and it is understood he is one of the options being explored as the Celtic hierarchy draw up a shortlist of contenders, which also includes the likes of former treble-winning boss Brendan Rodgers, ex-Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch and Norwegian coach Kjetil Knutsen also being in the frame.

Sunderland have reportedly talked to Enzo Maresca following Roy Keane snub.Sunderland have reportedly talked to Enzo Maresca following Roy Keane snub.
Sunderland have reportedly talked to Enzo Maresca following Roy Keane snub.

However, Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond, who is leading the managerial hunt, won’t be rushed into making an appointment after the club were rocked internally by Postecoglou’s decision to leave after two successful seasons.

Front-runner Maresca previously managed City’s Under-23s side but departed for a short-lived spell in charge of Serie B outfit Parma in 2021, where he worked alongside goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon. Despite his disasterous 13-match stint at the helm, the World Cup winner had plenty of admiration for Maresca.

Speaking two years ago, Buffon said: “I think every coach always tries to bring his own ideas, which often are different from the orthodoxy. The real difference though is now you manage to convey those ideas and get the team to take them on board. It seems to me that Maresca has something diffferent that immediately gets into the players’ heads and that’s decisive.”

Maresca returned to City last summer, replacing Juanma Lillo who left to become manager of Al-Sadd. He has gained further dugout experience as part of Unai Emery’s backroom team at Sevilla and as assistant coach to Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham.

A versatile, energetic and hard-working central midfielder during his playing career, Maresca was described as an “elite level coach” by former West Ham and Scotland attacker Robert Snodgrass and is highly-rated within the City Football Group. He already has a unique connection with Glasgow having won the 2007 UEFA Cup final with Sevilla at Hampden Park.

Many supporters would view his potential appointment as similar to that of Postecoglou, who also made a name for himself with City Group circles abroad, whom Celtic enjoy a close working relationship with due to supremo Peter Lawwell’s son, Mark, who was a major part of the group’s recruitment team for over a decade and could also offer an insight into the type of profile Maresca boasts.

A source who has spoken to officials at the English Premier League champions has confirmed City’s position on rumours linking Maresca with the Celtic vacancy. We have been informed the club will not stand in his way should the Scottish champions submit an official approach to speak with Maresca’s representatives.

It is understood any manager or coach who works under the CFG blueprint and requests to depart will be permitted to leave, but City are looking to hold off any potentials talks on his future until after Saturday’s Champions League Final against Inter Milan.

Maresca finds himself in a similar mould to current Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, who also had a three-and-a-half year stint as Guardiola’s assistant. The Spaniard was allowed to leave City to embark on his own managerial career in December 2019, with Guardiola stating at the time: “I’m not a guy that puts a gun to the heads of my staff or players and says what they have do to. We are human beings and everyone has dreams and desires.”