Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague believes that a whole host of top clubs throughout Europe are interested in signing Chelsea’s defender Cesar Azpilicueta.
The 26-year-old has been with the West London club since 2012 when he moved there from Marseille. Chelsea aren’t too worried about losing the player but Balague feels certain that they will play hard-ball over the fee they expect to receive for him, with Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich all chasing his signature.
Speaking to Sky Sports Balague said, “Some of the top clubs in Europe are after Azpilicueta’s signature, not least because of his versatility in being able to play in both full-back positions with equal confidence”.
The Spaniard appeared 38 times for Chelsea during the last campaign, a campaign that saw the then defending Premier League champions get off to their worst start in the top-flight since the 1960s. It also saw the departure of José Mourinho from the manager’s dugout and the arrival of Dutchman Guus Hiddink on an interim basis for the second time in his career. Chelsea missed out on Champions League football, meaning that some players might be looking to move on before the start of next season.
Balague continued, “If Chelsea were willing to sell, the front runners would be Atletico Madrid, although they have recently coolled on the idea, turning their attentions instead to Croatian full-back Sime Vrsaljko, who will soon confirm that he is moving to the Spanish club. There are, however, a host of clubs and top-flight managers that would love to see the Pamplona-born defender join their ranks, not least Unai Emery who is…on the very verge of taking over from Laurent Blanc at PSG”.
Barcelona are reportedly in the market for a versatile defender, believing that they can persuade Hector Bellerin to swap The Emirates for Camp Nou. Arsenal are keen to hold on to the defender, though, meaning that Barca see Azpilicueta as a good plan B, though they’re not happy about paying the £14 million Chelsea are likely to want. Bayern Munich are also keen on him and Athletic Bilbao would also love to take him to San Mamés.
Balague doesn’t think Chelsea will let him go to another Premier League side, with their former boss Mourinho now installed at Old Trafford. The self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ knows his former defender well, but, according to Balague, “Whether or not Chelsea would be prepared to sell Azpilicueta – at any price – to the club of their former manager and to a rival in England is another matter altogether”.
Though the Blues know how much they want for him and won’t be willing to let him go for less than that, it’s unlikely that they will stop him from going if the right sort of offer comes in. Balague said, “Chelsea will…stick to their valuation primarily because they would be quite happy to see him stay at the club, although they wouldn’t stand in his way if they received an offer that they felt they couldn’t refuse”.