Cesar Azpilicueta is excited by the potential of new signings Romelu Lukaku and Saul, and has discussed the qualities they can bring to the team.
Those were the only two outfield additions to our squad during this summer’s transfer window as we looked to further strengthen the team which won last season’s Champions League.
Before the current Champions League campaign kicks off this evening, when we host Zenit St Petersburg at Stamford Bridge and both players could make their first European appearance for Chelsea, our captain spoke about his first impressions of them.
He began with Lukaku, looking at the instant impact the Belgian has made after scoring three goals in as many Premier League games, including a brace in our last match against Aston Villa on Saturday.
‘The club always tries to improve the team every year and Romelu is a great addition for the team,’ said Azpilicueta. ‘With his experience, his desire, his ambition to help the team, we feel stronger because that gives you confidence as well.
‘His presence, you respect him, and when the defenders see him he’s a big lad and powerful and he can create chances at any time. We saw it on Saturday, how efficient he was, and this is massive for us.’
However, Azpilicueta believes he is having just as big an influence on his new team-mates off the pitch as he is on it.
‘Romelu is a great personality, a great character, a great leader. He’s very vocal, he’s ambitious, he helps everybody, trying to help his offensive team-mates see where we can be more dangerous. The impact he has had already on the pitch, but also off the pitch, has been immense and we are very happy because he’s a top-quality player.’
Saul’s introduction to life at Chelsea hasn’t run quite so smoothly after completing a loan move from Atletico Madrid late on transfer deadline day. He had a difficult debut against Aston Villa, which saw him replaced at half-time by Jorginho, but Azpilicueta feels his fellow Spaniard just needs time to adapt having never played outside his homeland before, and has no doubts he will prove to be another valuable addition to our squad.
‘Saul is a great player, I know him from his time in the national team. He has great experience at the highest level with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. When he signed for Chelsea he had a bit of a stressful last few hours of the transfer window, he arrived in a new country, had just a few training sessions before his first game against a good opposition who were very aggressive.
‘So it’s normal, sometimes you need a bit more time to adapt and his response has been absolutely spot on, his desire to improve, asking questions, he wants to adapt as quick as possible. He has our full support, he’s a great addition, I’m very happy to have him in our team. I’m sure that he will keep growing and helping the team because we need everybody and I’m sure that he will be an important player in the season.’
With those two outfield players joining an already strong squad, as well as goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli, our skipper feels we have the talent and the depth to challenge on all fronts during what is set to be another busy season.
‘I see this squad with great potential, great ambition,’ Azpilicueta added. ‘We have healthy competition, a very good group of lads that work and train hard and want to go forward. We have an exciting season ahead of us and we want to fight for everything and that reflects in the daily work that we do here, how we commit to each other, how we live our job.
‘That atmosphere we created last season together with the club and the staff made a big difference to get the Champions League trophy and we have to take care of it because this season we’re starting from zero and every team wants to beat the champions of Europe, so we have to be ready for that.’