Whether or not there will be massive changes in the Chelsea squad this summer remains to be seen, but chances are that Cesar Azpilicueta is one of the untouchables in either scenario. The 26-year-old left-, right-, every-back has become one of the first names on the Chelsea team sheet over the past four seasons, and despite his subpar season — so like all other Chelsea players bar Willian — that's unlikely to change.
On Thursday, he and Chelsea teammate Cesc Fàbregas faced off against the Italian national team, getting first-hand experience against future Chelsea coach Antonio Conte's tactics. Azpilicueta was certainly impressed.
"Italy played a really high-intensity game. In the first half we were not able to get out of the pressure and to get control of the game. We were in trouble because we had to defend and they have dangerous players. It was a difficult game."
"They play with three or five at the back and they were trying to press high in midfield. They were fresh but in the second half we put more people in midfield and they were not able to press so easily."
But while Fàbregas apparently got a hug from Conte on the sidelines, Azpilicueta wasn't going to reveal any inside information he may know.
"We don't know yet [if Conte will be our next coach]. We are focusing on the end of the season with Guus Hiddink as our manager. We will try to finish as high as possible to get close to the European places because what we have been doing until this moment is not enough for Chelsea. We will try to finish well and then the club will make a decision."
"Italy played well and it's down to the way they work. We can see they play a really intense game and tried to give us problems. I cannot say much more because he is the Italian national coach."
-César Azpilicueta; source: FourFourTwo
Whether as a left-back or a right-back, the once-unheralded Azpilicueta has grown into one of the best full backs in the Premier League. Conte's emphasis on hard work, teamwork, and determination should fit well into Dave's ethos.