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Keep, Sell, Loan: César Azpilicueta's 2015-16 season in review

Taking a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of each and every Chelsea player's season. Next up, César Azpilicueta, the right back, and left back, and center back.

Clive Mason/Getty Images

Appearances: 48 starts (+1 as substitute).
Minutes: 3201 in Premier League; 339 in domestic cups; 720 in Champions League.
Statistics (per 90 minutes, Premier League): 2.42 tackles won (53% success rate); 2.42 interceptions; 3.60 clearances.

Once upon a time, a certain Chelsea manager said that a team composed of 11 Azpilicuetas would win the Champions League, thanks to the hard work, determination, and "winning personality" of the Spanish fullback. That statement would not hold its weight if those 11 were the 2015-16 version of Azpi, though.

Widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the league in the last couple years, snuffing out attacks on the left flank 1-v-1, while also helping to cover for John Terry next to him and forming a key part of the solid Chelsea back four, unfortunately Azpilicueta was not immune to the Chelsea malaise this season either.  Ivanovic may have garnered all the attention, but Azpilicueta wasn't much better either.  As in Ivanovic's case, part of that was due to the ineffectiveness of Matic & Co in midfield as well as the newfound struggles of the center backs, leaving Azpilicueta isolated even beyond his substantial defensive skills.

When Ivanovic (and then, later, Terry) was injured as well as during most Champions League games when Baba Rahman started at left back, Azpilicueta was restored to his supposedly natural position of right back.  But this didn't exactly reap the rewards imagined by many, as he seemed uneasy with this new-old role.  He more or less matched Ivanovic struggles at both the defensive and attacking end of the pitch, regardless of whose name was on the manager's door.

Thanks to his versatility, which even saw him play center back for a short time, Azpilicueta finished the season with the most appearances (49) and most minutes (over 4200) of any player in the squad.

The Good: Those rare attacking forays forward, like the goal against West Brom.

The Bad: Defending.

The Ugly: Trying to win headers against Andy Carroll of West Ham United.

Verdict: At his worst, Azpilicueta is still a solid, reliable, consistent part of any Chelsea squad.  In that sense, he's the new Paulo Ferreira, and Mourinho moulding the Spaniard into another Chelsea cult hero along the lines of the well-coiffed one, who now works as a Loan Player Liaison for the club, is unsurprising.  Azpilicueta remains a fan favorite, whom we'll just call Dave.

The 26-year-old Spanish international — he's also likely to play left back more often than right for his country — has three years left on the contract extension he signed before our Premier League-winning campaign.  He made 30 starts at left back and 18 at right back, though where Antonio Conte will use him could be interesting, especially if we end up switching to more advanced wingbacks and a three-man defense, as unlikely as that may be.

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