Cesar Azpilicueta looks to be approaching the end of his Chelsea career after reports suggested he has an agreement in principle with Barcelona.
Azpilicueta has been with Chelsea since 2012, when he joined from Marseille. The Spaniard has been a regular at Stamford Bridge ever since and currently serves as captain. He has been part of eight trophy wins with the club.
However, he is one of four Chelsea defenders whose contracts expire at the end of the season. The others are Thiago Silva – who looks likely to renew – Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.
Fears are growing about how many options Chelsea could lose at the back. Now, it has been revealed that Azpilicueta is “very close” to leaving the club.
That’s according to journalist Gerard Romero, who claims Barcelona have reached an “agreement in principle” with the 32-year-old.
Should their plan come off, he would join them as a free agent in the summer after his Chelsea contract expires. In theory, they could put pen to paper on the contracts next month, leaving Chelsea powerless while he sees out the season with them.
Azpilicueta has made 449 appearances for Chelsea during his time with the club. But Barcelona could offer him another adventure late in his career.
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Although he remains a regular under Thomas Tuchel, the captain seems to be giving his future serious thought. He could have the chance to return to La Liga for the first time since leaving Osasuna in 2010.
Barca want to strengthen in defence and are fond of Azpilicueta for his ability to play practically anywhere in the department.
Azpilicueta mind almost made up
He seems receptive to their advances, with Romero claiming only a couple of “personal issues” could change his mind about moving to Camp Nou.
Previous reports had claimed Chelsea players were perplexed as to why Azpilicueta’s future had not been resolved yet. It later emerged that he is considering an exit to give himself the best chance of playing for Spain at the 2022 World Cup.
Returning to La Liga may help him in that regard, and that seems to be what he is about to do.
The supposed agreement is for the summer, though, meaning Chelsea have at least six months of Azpilicueta’s services left.
Should they still wish to keep him themselves, though, they may have to hurry.