Atletico Madrid have reportedly identified Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta as a potential replacement for Kieran Trippier.
According to AS, Atletico Madrid are considering a January swoop for Cesar Azpilicueta. The Chelsea defender is the favoured option for Diego Simeone, who is keen on beefing up his options in defence following an underwhelming start to the season.
Atletico Madrid are aware of Azpilicueta’s precarious situation at Chelsea, with his current contract at Stamford Bridge expiring at the end of the season. The general consensus is that the player is not going to renew his contract, but it is unclear if the Blues will be prepared to offload him in the ongoing January transfer window.
Atleti’s interest in Azpilicueta is barely surprising, as the club braces itself for life without Kieran Trippier. The talented right-back may have already played his last game for Los Colchoneros as he was seen waving to the fans after the recent win over Rayo Vallecano. He has been subsequently linked with an imminent move to Newcastle United, who are prepared to shell out as much as €30 million.
With Trippier leaving, a new right-back is on the agenda of Cholo Simeone. To that end, Atletico Madrid have already set their sights on out of favour Barcelona full-back Sergino Dest, but it appears the Argentine tactician favours a more experienced alternative.
With over 450 competitive appearances for Chelsea and a track record of winning the UEFA Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and the Europa League, Cesar Azpilicueta fits the bill perfectly. The 32-year-old also has the experience of playing in La Liga, having featured in over 100 competitive matches during his time at Osasuna.
On top of his experience, Azpilicueta is a versatile defender who can operate as a right-back, right-sided central defender in a back three, left-back and even at right wing-back, making him an appealing target for Atletico Madrid.
However, the Spanish champions are set to face stiff competition from Barcelona in the pursuit of the veteran defender. The Catalan giants have reportedly reached an agreement with the Chelsea defender regarding a Bosman move in the summer, potentially forcing Simeone to consider other alternatives.
For Chelsea, it will be interesting to see if they devise a way to strike a potential swap deal between Azpilicueta and Trippier. The Englishman, after all, is a target for Thomas Tuchel in the wake of the recent injury sustained by Reece James. However, the move appears to be unlikely, as Azpilicueta is not bound to a long-term contract.