Why Nicolas Jackson will THRIVE under Enzo Maresca

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
  • 28 May 2024 17:00 BST
  • 4 min read
Nicolas Jackson, Enzo Maresca, Chelsea, 2023/24

Nicolas Jackson’s debut season at Chelsea was severely underrated.

The Senegal international missed a host of glaring chances throughout the campaign, including several during the Blues’ FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City, but it was a wholly positive first year in English football.

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While Chelsea’s pursuit of Victor Osimhen is well-documented, there’s a body of evidence that suggests throwing Jackson to the side would be a mistake.

READ MORE: Premier League summer transfers 2024 - All the Done Deals

Of course, signing Osimhen would elevate the ceiling of Chelsea’s squad and provide the Blues with one of the world’s best forwards for the first time since Diego Costa’s exit, but the west London club would be foolish to purchase the Napoli star if he is set to completely hinder Jackson’s development.

Furthermore, the imminent arrival of Enzo Maresca promises to be a net positive for the ex-Villarreal star.

Jackson was one of the more vocal Chelsea players in expressing his dissatisfaction with Mauricio Pochettino’s exit, and while the Argentine was a huge factor in his progress across the 2023-24 campaign, Maresca could help Jackson develop even further.

READ MORE: What Chelsea fans can expect from Enzo Maresca

The Italian manager learned under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage at Manchester City, and his time at Leicester City saw him demand his number nine to perform a very specific role.

Jamie Vardy was frequently the Foxes’ preferred choice through the middle last season and while he made his name with incisive in-behind runs, the former England international was often tasked to drop deep and link up play during Leicester’s build-up patterns.

With Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Wilfred Ndidi playing as advanced number eights - due to protection from Harry Winks and inverted right-back Ricardo Pereira - Vardy was tasked with dropping into the pocket between defence and midfield to pick up the ball.

He would then look to combine with Dewsbury-Hall or Ndidi using quick, one-touch passing. With Vardy vacating the space usually occupied by a number nine, it allowed Leicester’s number eight pairing to make forward runs into the penalty area.

Player image Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy


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Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy




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As a result, Dewsbury-Hall ended the campaign with 12 goals and 15 assists, while Ndidi, typically a defensive midfielder, notched 12 goal contributions in all competitions.

Vardy himself scored 20 times in just 1,926 minutes and although he only grabbed two assists, his link-up play was vital to Maresca’s system.

Nicolas Jackson to excel under Enzo Maresca?

Jackson’s first season at Chelsea saw him flatter to deceive with regards to his finishing and composure, but his close control and ability to drop deep and combine with team-mates was exceptional.

He created a fantastic relationship with Cole Palmer and Jackson’s fundamental skills outside the 18-yard box are seemingly as good as any striker in the Premier League.

Nicolas Jackson, Chelsea
© IMAGO - Nicolas Jackson, Chelsea

Of course, his goalscoring prowess is not yet up to scratch with the division’s very best, but his skillset aligns perfectly with how Maresca wants his centre forward to play.

Jackson is more than adept at dropping deep to combine with midfielders and his penalty box threat certainly improved as his debut season progressed.

Maresca will want to put his stamp on things when he arrives at Stamford Bridge, but Jackson looks as though he will thrive under the Italian’s management.

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