The first week of pre-season training is almost over as Chelsea players old and new are put through their paces in a two-a-days both in the gym and on the pitch, with the ball and without the ball. No one works harder at these than César Azpilicueta, the consensus answer from every Chelsea player if asked to name the most competitive and most dedicated player in training. It was Gary Cahill a few years who revealed that while the fans just call him Dave, Azpilicueta’s nickname in the dressing room is (or was) “Rat” because he works so hard.
In any case, let’s see what Dave thinks of the season coming up. I bet it’ll be something about rising to the challenge.
“We are looking forward to it starting. Obviously it’s a big challenge for us, we know how difficult it is to win it as we’ve now won it two times in the past three years, but we are ready to fight.”
“Now every team will be fired up playing against the champions and we have to prepare well mentally to fight for it.”
“This is a league where you compete against six or seven big teams. It’s very difficult to predict a champion before the start of the season. The biggest rivals will be the team you are playing against next and every team is difficult to play, so we have to perform in every game.”
I can’t believe he didn’t say the word “work” even once! Let’s hope Conte doesn’t hear about this! (In fairness, Dave did use “fight”, which is a close second in the Conte vocabulary list.)
“Last season I played really comfortably in that central position and the manager asked me to stay there. He’s helped me a lot and obviously when you win you get the assurance and you are happier.”
“I’m happy to play anywhere the manager asks me to play. It’s true that last season I played in many positions, but I’m happy to help the team in whichever way the manager requires.”
-César Azpilicueta; source: Chelsea FC
Given that Chelsea have a couple new centre backs in the squad in Rüdiger and Christensen, many expect Azpilicueta to play a big more wing-back this year to help lighten Victor Moses’s workload (provided no new signings, like Danilo, are made). But we should recall that Conte called Azpi “one of the best in the world” at the right-most center back position and other than being beaten to a few headers by Dele and Zlatan, he indeed performed magnificently.
On the other hand, with a shortage at striker, maybe he’s training for that position instead. I mean, check out this sweet finish!
P.S. If you’re worried about the Barcelona nonsense, which Azpi himself had debunked many weeks ago, they just agreed to sign a new right back in Nélson Semedo. Carry on. Azpilicueta is ours, forever and ever.