Chelsea are working to extend the contract of Cesar Azpilicueta and have made that negotiation their top priority, according to reports.
Azpilicueta has been at Chelsea since 2012 and has been their captain for the past two seasons. A reliable figure in defence, he has played as either a right-back or centre-back. But with just one year left on his contract, the Spaniard may be approaching the end of his time at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have generally been reluctant to hand out long-term deals to players over 30, an age group that Azpilicueta is now in. In addition, the emergence of Reece James at right-back has added competition for one of the roles he can play.
But the Blues still see Azpilicueta as a big part of their future. He has started 19 games in the Premier League this season as well as eight in the Champions League. Since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel, the 31-year-old has rediscovered his role on the right of the back three.
Reports earlier this week from El Gol Digital named Azpilicueta as a potential target for Atletico Madrid. The La Liga giants would use him as a centre-back as well, and are eyeing him as a potential replacement for Jose Gimenez.
Chelsea, coincidentally, are a potential suitor for Gimenez. Atletico expect to sell him this summer and could try to replace him with Azpilicueta.
But it seems Chelsea have no intention of letting their captain go. According to AS, Azpilicueta’s contract is the “main topic” that the Blues are currently working on.
Having proven himself to Tuchel, Azpilicueta should get the chance to continue in west London. The report adds that he has little interest in a return to his native Spain, where he has not played since 2010.
Therefore, he will retain an “essential” role at Chelsea as long as they can come to an agreement over his contract. It seems they will have little trouble doing so.
With more than 400 appearances for the club to his name, putting him in their top 10 most-used players of all time, Azpilicueta is likely to continue his long association with Chelsea.
Abraham to be shown door
One player who Chelsea will not be looking to keep, though, is Tammy Abraham.
Tuchel has insisted he still has a place in his plans for the striker, even if it has been difficult for him to break into the lineup recently.
But a recent report from Todofichajes claimed that Chelsea want rid of Abraham, despite him still being their top scorer this season.
Leicester are said to be leading the race for the England international. West Ham and Aston Villa also admire him. And should Chelsea sell, it could clear the way for them to sign a big-name replacement.