For a while now, Chelsea has been on the path of reformation. It has been about 6 months of complete overhauling. In this process, Cesar Azpilicueta was almost part of it.
Due to the new changes made by the new owners of Chelsea FC, they almost lost their captain to the change. Cesar Azpilicueta, who had played at the Stamford Bridge for almost 10 years wanted to leap in search of a new challenge.
His reasons for leaving seem justifiable, seeing that he has won every possible trophy as a Chelsea player, hence he is willing to move back to Spain where clubs like Barcelona are reportedly willing to get him.
Chelsea has decided to agree to a two-year deal with the Spaniard which he has signed to. This makes the Spanish International one of the players transitioning from Roman Abramovich’s era to that of Todd Boehly.
“I always stayed committed to the club, it’s how I’ve been since day one,” Azpilicueta told Sky Sports when talking about the long period of “uncertainty”. “This is my home and I never took the selfish decision [to leave].
“After the Club World Cup, I shared my feelings [about leaving], it was never a decision about contract years or wages. I expressed my feelings and then everything changed with the ownership and sanctions.“
“I dealt with the situation in my own way. We [he and the new owners] had honest conversations and I’m really proud to be the Chelsea captain and I’m looking forward for the next years. I decided that the best thing for everybody was to stay.”
Todd Boehly’s team wanted Cesar Azpilicueta to remain committed to the club as the captain as this would help to keep the morale of the team on high. If not for any reason, having the longest-serving player on Chelsea’s team with them would be advantageous to the team and the new owners.
To solidify things, Chelsea have secured Raheem Sterling and Marc Cucurella. The new owners are putting their money where their mouth is. Kalidou Koulibaly and Carney Chukwuemaka’s arrival at the club suggest that Boehly is considering Chelsea’s present and future. This is something that the captain, approves of.
“It’s very important that we keep the ambition high and keep winning trophies – and we have showed that with our transfers and the new players coming in,” Cesar Azpilicueta says.
“I’ve seen a great ambition, they [the owners] have been very transparent and honest since the first day. We’ve seen straight away in the transfer window and it’s not easy to step up after just a few months of sanctions where you can’t make any movements.
“In football, the competition is really high. You have more teams who want players and it’s very difficult. Sometimes you need a bit more time, but we’ve had a great recruitment until now. They [the new owners] have shown in other sports how successful they have been and I am fully confident that we will have a successful period as a club.”
And there could be more transfers on the way, with Barcelona duo Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Frenkie de Jong both on Chelsea’s radar. “We’re still working on more until the last day,” says Azpilicueta. “There’s still some movement around and I’m very excited.”
There are some contrasting opinions about the new owners of Chelsea. Gary Neville for one, states that he is unsure about Chelsea’s ability to finish in the top 4 ahead of Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United.
When asked if patience is needed at Chelsea, Azpilicueta was quite adamant when he was asked if Chelsea needed some more time to get their act together.
“I don’t really agree with that. In football, it’s difficult to ask for time.
“Sometimes it can take a little bit more time to learn as they have different routines. But our job on the pitch is to work as hard as we can to get results on the pitch because positive results help everything around you.”
Chelsea would probably get a feel of the season when they face Spurs on Sunday. The fixture between the two London teams would present a discovery of Conte’s impact on Tottenham and whether they have grown more than the Blues did under his era as the manager.
“It’s the second game of the season, we’ve only just started,” says Azpilicueta when asked if victory sends out a statement to the rest of the division. “But against Tottenham, it doesn’t matter when you play them – it’s just about winning.“
“We know it’s going to be a tough game – they did their transfer business before pre-season. We know Antonio very well and how he prepares his teams. We have to be ready and we’re working hard to be ready.”
Azpilicueta alongside Koulibaly would be saddled with the responsibility of defending against some of the best forwards in the EPL – Heung-Min Son (Golden Boot Winner of the previous season), Harry Kane and Dejan Kulisevski.
When asked about the Tottenham forwards, he had this to say:
“They are quality players, the numbers are there in the way they score goals and create chances. As a team, they work well together and are organized.”
“Big games can be decided by small details – and the answer for that is working together, being offensive and trying to play in the opposite half – then be ready to defend because there’s moments where you have to cope with it.”
In the 2016/2017 season, Conte claimed that Azpilicueta was one of the best defenders in the world. This was the season where Conte helped the Blues to lift the trophy at the Stamford Bridge. Hence, Azpilicueta who played in every minute of that season is fully aware of Conte’s prowess as a coach and how he can help make Tottenham better.
“The day he came, he told me you were playing right centre-back,” recalls the defender. “I was playing left-back at the beginning of the season and then we switched to a back three.”
“He gave me confidence to play, the patterns and the solutions to work a lot defensively. We had a lot of sessions as a unit. Physically I felt so strong, he gave me the confidence and the opportunity to play in a position which I never played before. I had to work hard, very hard.”