Premier League • England

Cesar Azpilicueta avoids ‘selfish decision’ after sensing ‘great ambition’ from Chelsea transfers

Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta

Cesar Azpilicueta has lifted the lid on how he decided to commit to Chelsea, admitting that it would have been “selfish” to seek an exit.

Azpilicueta was facing an uncertain future going into the summer. He was due to become a free agent, prompting links with Barcelona. However, an automatic contract extension complicated the picture.

Barcelona did not lose sight of Azpilicueta, although there were doubts over the terms via which they could sign him. Ultimately, the Chelsea captain put an end to the speculation once and for all by agreeing a new, longer arrangement at Stamford Bridge.

Now, he will be leading Chelsea until 2024, which means he may have two more seasons in the Premier League. It would take him up to the age of 34.

Hence, he will be spending the rest of his prime in the blue shirt. In turn, Barcelona have been forced to look elsewhere.

Now, Azpilicueta has opened up on how he came to the decision to stay at Chelsea. In an interview with Sky Sports, the defender has denied he ever lost any commitment and has ended up making the best decision for all concerned.

“I always stayed committed to the club. It’s how I’ve been since day one,” Azpilicueta said. “This is my home and I never took the selfish decision [to leave].

“After the Club World Cup, I shared my feelings [about leaving]. It was never a decision about contract years or wages. I expressed my feelings and then everything changed with the ownership and sanctions.

“I dealt with the situation in my own way. We [he and the new owners] had honest conversations and I’m really proud to be the Chelsea captain and I’m looking forward for the next years. I decided that the best thing for everybody was to stay.”

Azpilicueta pleased by Chelsea ambition in transfer window

By extending his stay, Azpilicueta went against the tide in terms of his fellow defenders, having seen Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen jump ship. Malang Sarr has since also moved on.

Indeed, it has been a summer in which there has been a major focus on outgoings from Stamford Bridge. However, there have been some interesting signings too, such as former Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, ex-Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, and recent addition from Brighton, Marc Cucurella.

Chelsea are also investing with an eye to the future, as seen from deals for the likes of Carney Chukwuemeka, Omari Hutchinson and Gabriel Slonina.

Some are sceptical of how well the new-look Chelsea may get on this season. However, Azpilicueta still senses ambition from the reigning Club World Cup champions.

“It’s very important that we keep the ambition high and keep winning trophies – and we have showed that with our transfers and the new players coming in,” Azpilicueta said.

“I’ve seen a great ambition, they [the owners] have been very transparent and honest since the first day. We’ve seen straight away in the transfer window and it’s not easy to step up after just a few months of sanctions where you can’t make any movements.

“In football, the competition is really high. You have more teams who want players and it’s very difficult. Sometimes you need a bit more time, but we’ve had a great recruitment until now.

“They [the new owners] have shown in other sports how successful they have been and I am fully confident that we will have a successful period as a club.”

Azpilicueta has made 475 appearances for Chelsea to date.

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