Premier League • England

Barcelona’s Chelsea raid now ‘advanced’, as Abramovich prepares icon’s ‘farewell’

N'Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta celebrating for Chelsea

Barcelona have moved a step closer to snatching Chelsea ‘icon’ Cesar Azpilicueta, and owner Roman Abramovich has intervened to ensure his send-off is ‘magnificent’, per a report.

An area of Chelsea’s squad to keep a close eye on in the coming windows is central defence. Thomas Tuchel’s rearguard have drawn widespread acclaim after underpinning their march to Champions League glory last season.

Despite a recent blip in the league, the Blues still boast the joint-meanest defence alongside Manchester City this season with just nine goals conceded.

However, Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are all out of contract next summer.

Few would be surprised to see Silva pen a one-year extension. The Brazilian has been a revelation since his free agent move from PSG in 2020.

Tuchel has reportedly issued Christensen with a contract ultimatum. The German believes Christensen is a “perfect fit” for Chelsea, though reports have suggested he is hesitant to commit long-term.

Rudiger has generated strong links with overseas sides after his most recent contract offer was reportedly treated as a ‘slap in the face’.

Finally, Azpilicueta has become a target for Barcelona, and the latest report from Spanish publication El Nacional makes grim reading for Chelsea.

Azpilicueta exit ‘advanced’; Abramovich prepares ‘farewell’

They state Barca president Joan Laporta will ‘obey Xavi’s requests’ to land the 32-year-old defender. The lack of a transfer fee involved will allow Barcelona to concentrate their meagre resources on attacking additions. The outlet claims talks are already at an ‘advanced’ stage.

Azpilicueta has been seated on the bench more times than he has been accustomed to this season. Nevertheless, his experience and versatility ensure he remains a vital cog in Tuchel’s backline.


And indicating just how highly he is thought of at Stamford Bridge, the article claims Roman Abramovich is ‘preparing a farewell with magnificence’.

The current campaign is Azpilicueta’s 10th in the capital, and Abramovich reportedly considers him ‘one of the most important footballers in the history of the club’.

Nonetheless, if the report is accurate, it appears Azpilicueta is now on course to return to his homeland.

“You cannot do this” – Tuchel reflects on Hammers loss

Meanwhile, Tuchel insisted “you cannot do this” when lamenting one aspect of their narrow London derby defeat to West Ham.

“We wanted to [finish it off], but we could not finish it with clear chances and be more ruthless. We struggled also defending in some situations as well,” the manager said.

“When Thiago cleared the ball on the line, it’s right after our goal and we have a horrible pass back into the feet of the opponents. You cannot do this on this level, this is top-four Premier League level.

“Way too many mistakes, it’s impossible to make so many mistakes and expect a result.”

On the title blow, he added: “Every loss is a bump in the road, that will not hold us back from what we demand from us. We need to play more accurate, more stable and reduce big mistakes.”

Chelsea return to action on Wednesday when they face Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League.

READ MORE: Paper Talk: Klopp makes big promise to La Liga star as Liverpool prepare offer; Prem club’s shock ex-Chelsea raid