The future of Chelsea captain César Azpilicueta remains uncertain, despite a one-year extension option that was triggered in his contract a few months ago. In fact, the extension has only caused the situation to become more complicated for the 32-year-old, who apparently remains torn between loyalty to Chelsea and a professional desire for a new challenge.
As head coach Thomas Tuchel explains, the man who’s won it all, who has completed the Chelsea trophy set, shouldn’t be begrudged if he wants a change of scenery in order to ensure that he continues to give it his all and thus play at his very best. A little shock to the system, to flush out any complacency, regret, or feelings of thinks that could’ve been, can be good, and even necessary at times.
“He is everything Chelsea is about. [He] sets the example. [His success and behaviour] sets the tone. It sets the atmosphere at a very high level.
“[But] there are more layers and levels we have to consider [...] whether he can give all that, whether he is fully committed. If he cannot get rid of this feeling [about wanting a new challenge], we have to talk about it openly, seriously, and respectfully because he deserves it. [He] is only the guy he is when he is fully committed. That is his foundation.”
While Tuchel’s obviously hoping Azpi stays, it’s a decision that’s long been in the player’s court. All we can do is try to convince him of the right move, or facilitate a departure like we’ve done for many of our biggest legends before him.
“We had a lot of these talks because, very genuinely, it felt like he won everything after the Club World Cup. So, given his personal situation, I can understand these thoughts that maybe a cycle is at its end. Then there’s a change of ownership, and he played only under this owner in this structure, so it may have increased his second thoughts about his situation.
“But then his extension kicked in, and at the same time, he loves the club, he loves the challenge, he loves to be here, and he is our captain. So we are still in dialogue, and at some point, we are also selfish. We are not responsible to solve any other club’s problems or to fulfil any other club’s wishes. [But] I can understand his personal point of view. If you are a legend, which he is, you deserve maybe also from me and the club a second look at it, is there may be an exception from the rule. We are still in this process.”
Tuchel has stressed that no decision has been made, either way, though thing will probably start moving quite rapidly once the new ownership group is in place. Barcelona seems quite confident an winning his favor, but they’ll just have to wait and see.
“We [need to] find out if he can give everything that makes him special. I think, with all the respect, he can only be special if he is committed 100% and does not have another little voice in his head, not one concern in his head, that he should have done something differently. [So] this is what we have to find out.
“That does not mean we find it out tomorrow or today, we still have time because we are also in the privileged position where we have a contract. We have to see.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Azpi would be in stellar company were he decide to leave, following the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Petr Čech, and Ashley Cole. Our club legends then not to retire with us after all.