Chelsea Captain César Azpilicueta has grown into one of the leaders of the team in recent years, and now he’s ready to take that responsibility to the next level and exert his influence beyond the pitch and the training ground.
This is something that Frank Lampard had talked about recently as well, calling on the veterans at the club to help the younger players successfully make the transition from the youth team to the first-team. Azpi has taken this fully on board, just as he’s always done. We would expect nothing less from the teacher’s pet, who always gives 110 per cent.
“The most experienced players have to help the young players coming in. We are lucky we have the best academy in England and it is true that maybe in recent years we haven’t seen a lot of youngsters coming into the first team and getting minutes in the pitch.
”Last year Callum, Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] and Andreas [Christensen] started to get minutes. Now with the transfer ban, we have seen in pre-season already, they have more chances to break in. They have Frank and all his staff who they have already been working with for quite a long time.”
That’s all great and good, but it would be even better if Huson-Odoi, who’s facing a couple more months on the sidelines with the Achilles injury, had signed his contract already. It would certainly be ironic to lose the crown jewel of the Academy, injured or not, just as the pathway between the youth and senior teams is cleared of most artificial barriers.
The Hudson-Odoi to Bayern saga has rumbled on for the better part of seven months, but for Azpilicueta, there is only proper choice.
“Yes, we [senior players] do [talk to the youngsters]. It is important to have a connection between the players in the first team and the academy. We can be better and stronger by having these players in the first team but also with the coaches working with a system so when the players come in it is easier for them [to adapt].
”For Callum it is a massive chance to become a key player for Chelsea. He was getting plenty of minutes before his unlucky injury. Now I am sure that when he recovers well he will be important when he is back.
”The feeling and desire is there from all of the boys when they start at Chelsea, it is a tough academy to get through. Mason (Mount), Ruben (Loftus-Cheek) and Callum are all players that we have to be proud of and they are setting a good example for the others young lads starting their careers.”
-César Azpilicueta; source: Sky
Let’s hope he’s right.