Chelsea fullback César Azpilicueta arrived at Stamford Bridge from Ligue 1 side Olympique Marseille in the summer of 2012, becoming the team's first-choice right-back after a few short months. In the season after, Azpilicueta started being used as an inverted left-back by José Mourinho, and the Man We Just Call Dave reaped the benefits of his quick adaptation to the position, becoming one of Premier League's best defenders in the process.
Now a four-year veteran of the Blues, Azpilicueta reminisced about his time with the team in an interview to the club's official magazine.
"Since the first day I came here I felt very good, very comfortable with everybody at the club. They looked after me since the first day, so obviously after a few years, you feel better and better every day, and I want to keep going."
"My life has changed in those four years. I've become a dad and I have also grown here because when I arrived I was just 22, so in time you become stronger. You discover a new country, new people and a new sporting culture, a new league with different players and different managers. I think it has been a very, very good experience these past four years."
Like much of the squad, Azpilicueta hasn't played up to his previous standard, which had included the likes of Gary Neville calling him "near to perfect" and the best 1-v-1 defender in the league. Like everybody else, he's looking forward to next season, getting back to the business of winning under Antonio Conte's guidance.
"We have Premier League games to win and our motivation is to finish as high up the table as possible, because for Chelsea it's not enough to be fighting in mid-table."
"We haven't won any trophies this season but we want to win as many games as we can and prepare to lift trophies again next season. I've been here four seasons. In two seasons, I won trophies and in two I didn't win. So hopefully we will get back to winning trophies again next season. I think we will improve and for Chelsea the only target is to win."
"For the big clubs, if you have one bad season where you don't win trophies, you have to bounce back. We are in a big club here and we have to fight again for trophies next season."
-César Azpilicueta; Source: Chelsea FC
As one of the most important players in the squad over the past several seasons, Azpilicueta could very well be in line to step up and fill the void of leadership left by the impending departure of John Terry (and perhaps others). Dave might have had a subpar season, but he's still only just 26 (turning 27 in the summer) and under contract for three more seasons. He has plenty left to give to the Chelsea cause in the future.