For a man supposedly unconcerned about the issue of selecting a club captain, Maurizio Sarri sure had dragged it out for a good long while in order to, as he says, get to know his players and make the right decision. So clearly he values the honor, even if it’s just symbolic, or at least understands that it carries with it some level of meaning on some level, somewhere.
As things stands, Gary Cahill remains the de facto first captain. He has barely played this season so far, but just like John Terry in Antonio Conte’s first season, he immediately reassumed the armband when he finally made his first start of the season against Liverpool in the midweek League Cup tie. And there was definitely no ambiguity in this situation: Azpilicueta started as well but the armband was on Cahill.
Over the weekend, Cahill was back on the bench and Azpilicueta was back in the captain’s role, as he has been in every Premier League match this season. As he was only a substitute against PAOK in the Europa League, Willian took the honors temporarily.
So that’s the status quo: Cahill captain, Azpilicueta vice-captain, just as last season. But Sarri is now apparently ready to make his decision official, sometime this week, and according to Matt Law, it’s Azpilicueta who’s in “pole position” for it.
The other front runner has been Eden Hazard, with the armband seen as a potential sweetener in any ongoing contract negotiations, but apparently Hazard “would not factor” that into any decision he may or may not make whenever he’s finally ready to make a decision.
Fortunately, Eden and Azpi are good friends, so maybe they can just share the captain/vice-captain duties, a la JT and Lampard, especially if Cahill ends up leaving in January.