Chelsea are looking set to sign 22-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta from Marseille in a deal reportedly worth around £4- 7million, but what can he offer?
Cesar Azpilicueta came through the youth system at La Liga club Osasuna, He made his debut at just 17 years of age against Real Madrid in a 2-0 defeat. Azpilicueta then went on to establish himself as a first team regular which saw him feature in all but 2 La Liga game in 2007-08 season at just 18 years old. In 2010 Osasuna confirmed that after 4 years at the club Cesar Azpilicueta would be joining French club Olympique Marseille where he became a regular choice right-back and earned himself call up to the Spanish squad. He has represented Spain from U16 level all the way to winning the European U21 championships and also being picked in Spain’s London 2012 olympic Squad.
Chelsea are obviously desperate for a right-back after releasing Jose Bosingwa and sending Sam Hutchinson on loan to Nottingham Forest, leaving only Branislav Ivanovic, Paulo Ferreria and youngster Todd Kane as their recognised right-backs. This leaves Di Matteo questioning whether Ferreria could step up if Ivanovic gets banned, injured etc.
Azpilicueta can offer pace, strength and he great defensively, but he does suffer from a lack of consistency. One game he can be an outstanding performer, the next you would forget he was playing. Azpilicueta caught the eye of several clubs in the 2011-12 Ligue 1 season, averaging 2.4 tackles per game and 2.7 interceptions per game, and also a 74.3% pass completion rate. Having started Marseille’s first two Ligue 1 games of the new season, he has impressed already with his passing completion averaging an impressive 88.2%.
Players like Inter Milan’s Maicon and Lille’s Mathieu Debuchy have both linked with summer moves to Chelsea throughout the summer so it may leave fans wondering if Azpilicueta is the best option? Well Maicon for instance is 31 years old, would have cost far more, with considerably high wages and I suspect it wouldn’t be too long before the Brazil international retires. On the other hand Lille’s Mathieu Debuchy is 27, and would cost Chelsea a fee in the regio of £5- £9 million pounds. Its likely that Azpilicueta will be seen as Ivanovic’s back up for now but at 22 years of age Chelsea will have captured a player who can remain at the club in the long run if a deal is concluded. Despite only being 22 years old, Azpilicueta has bags of experience featuring in 167 career games for Osasuna and Marseille respectively. Having only scored 1 goal in his career, Chelsea fans shouldn’t expect a free scoring right back, but they can expect good delivery when going foward, and a player who is calm and composed on the ball.
Having been left out of Marseille’s squad for Thursday’s Europa League tie with Fc Sheriff Tiraspol, Azpilicueta is expected to complete his move to Chelsea at some point this week. The Spaniard said his goodbyes to Marseille fans after Sunday’s 2-0 win over Sochaux and spoke publicly about the transfer.
“It’s been a tough time for me with my thoughts spilt between Marseille and Chelsea.” Azpilicueta also added. “If my departure can help Marseille’s finances, then it is a good deal for everyone concerned.”
After a disappointing Premier League campaign last season finishing 6th, Chelsea have of course already made big signings this summer including the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin. Chelsea are certainly putting down a marker as they want to be challenge on all fronts this season. With all of Chelsea’s new signings under the age of 23, there is no doubt Di Matteo wants to ‘freshen’ his team up a bit. Lacking creativity and pace last season and giving the signings they have made it is obvious they want to fix that. Azpilicueta can certainly fit the bill, he is quicker than Ivanovic and more mobile. Furthermore, I strongly believe that Azpilicueta has great potential to become a fantastic signing for Chelsea Football Club.
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