Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has seen his contract extended for another 12 months, despite the ongoing sanctions facing the club.
What’s the word?
As per Mundo Deportivo, the Spaniard has been awarded a new one-year extension after hitting certain conditions in his existing deal to spark a renewal, with the Blues skipper’s previous contract having been set to expire in just a matter of months.
Goal had reported on that hidden clause a few weeks ago, although the renewal has only just taken place, with the extension allowed to go ahead despite the club’s current predicament as the initial deal had been struck prior to the sanctions being imposed.
That means that Barcelona – who have been heavily linked with the 32-year-old – may now require a fee to prize the former Marseille man from west London which could prove a stumbling block, although an updated report from Goal suggested that the Stamford Bridge outfit may let him depart if he so wishes, ‘having been so grateful for his service at the club’.
The fact that the Premier League side are willing to let the defender decide his own fate is a marker of just how good a servant he has been since his arrival in England on an initial £6.5m deal back in 2012.
Since then, ‘Azpi’ has remained a vital cog under a succession of managers, filling in all across the backline as well as even in a wing-back role at times under current boss Thomas Tuchel, having proven himself a reliable presence wherever stationed.
In his ten-year stint on these shores, the £150k-per-week man has won a plethora of major honours, notably playing a key role in the club’s Champions League triumph last term, while he has also claimed two Premier League titles and two Europa League titles, among others.
With 464 club appearances to his name in all competitions, the 5 foot 10 stalwart has become an undisputable club legend, while current teammate and fellow veteran Thiago Silva recently labelled him a “spectacular player” with “tremendous qualities”.
A bargain addition a decade ago, the one-time Osasuna man – once named the best defender in the Premier League Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher – still remains a vital asset in the current set-up and would seemingly have a part to play for another year at least, having already made 35 appearances across all fronts this season.
With Antonio Rudiger’s current contract expiring – and with Andreas Christensen looking on course to join Barcelona – Tuchel and co simply can’t afford another major defensive loss, while the experienced leader could also prove in helping to nurture the emerging Trevoh Chalobah and teenage talent Levi Colwill, should he shun a move to the Nou Camp.
AND in other news, Chelsea takeover race hots up as two leading frontrunners emerge…