Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has reportedly emerged as a summer transfer target for La Liga title hopefuls Atletico Madrid.
According to a report from Spanish publication El Gol Digital, Atletico Madrid have set their sights on Chelsea defender and captain Cesar Azpilicueta ahead of the upcoming summer transfer window.
Azpilicueta is the longest-serving member of the Chelsea first-team squad currently, having been at the club since 2012 when he arrived on a bargain fee from Marseille. Over the years, the Spaniard has grown into a pivotal player for the Blues, with his ability to play anywhere across the backline, coupled with his dedication and work-ethic, endearing him to managers and fans alike.
Handed the club captaincy following the departure of Gary Cahill, Azpilicueta, till date, has amassed 420 appearances for Chelsea, producing a return of 14 goals and 51 assists, winning two Premier League titles, two Europa League trophies, an FA Cup and a League Cup in the process.
The start of the 2020/21 campaign saw Azpilicueta fall behind Reece James in the pecking order for the right-back slot. However, since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel in January earlier this year, the 31-year-old has been a permanent fixture in the starting XI, slotting in as the right-sided centre-back in the three-man defensive unit for the Blues.
Along with Azpilicueta, Chelsea also have the likes of Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen at their disposal. Nevertheless, Tuchel is intent on securing the transfer of another central defender in the summer, with Bayern Munich’s Niklas Sule said to be at the top of his wishlist.
Should the German international arrive, one of the current defenders could become surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge and Atletico Madrid are hoping to make the most of such a situation by making a move for Azpilicueta.
Los Rojiblancos are keen on securing a new central defender as uncertainty looms over the future of Jose Maria Gimenez, who interestingly has been linked with Chelsea, along with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United. Atletico strongly expect the Uruguayan to be on the move at the end of the season despite having set a €60 million valuation for him.
And, Diego Simeone’s side are hoping to replace him with Azpilicueta, who as per the report could cost somewhere around the €17 million mark, given as his contract with Chelsea runs out in a little over twelve months. It now remains to be seen if Los Colchoneros do make an attempt to take the 31-year-old back to Spain eleven years after he had left his boyhood club Osasuna.