He's been one of the first names on Chelsea team sheets for well over two years, and one of the best full backs in the Premier League for almost as long, but in the summer of 2012, Cesar Azpilicueta arrived just as a relatively unknown 22-year-old backup right back from Marseille. He didn't even get to make his first league start until November.
Once he did, he wasted no time in establishing himself as first-choice ahead of Branislav Ivanovic and the veteran Paulo Ferreira. The following season, not content with those accomplishments, he went back to the drawing board to rise to Jose Mourinho's challenge of converting himself to left back, and making both Ashley Cole and Ryan Bertrand surplus to requirements. So if you're keeping track, the Cesar Azpilicueta body count is at 4.
That number could soon rise to 5. (Or 6, depending on how you count the recently departed Filipe Luis.)
"I'm confident that I will keep working and doing my job. I know that the competition is good for the team. There are a lot of great players around me and young players too. They're all going to compete for a place. At the end, hopefully the whole team will be better and I hope to improve."
-Cesar Azpilicueta; source: Evening Standard
New signing Baba Rahman's now in the fold — at over £21m, he cost three times as much as Azpilicueta did in 2012 — and the speedy left back no doubt has designs on Azpilicueta-ing Azpilicueta. So as the man we just call Dave begins his fourth season at the club, he has yet another challenge to face. And no doubt conquer ... though neither Azpilicueta nor Ivanovic have had exactly stellar starts to the season, so at this point, the full back pecking order could very well get completely turned upside down, depending on just how well the 21-year-old Baba fits in.