Thomas Tuchel talks about Cesar Azpilicueta’s future and his hopes the Spaniard will extend his 10-year stay at Stamford Bridge beyond this summer.
Azpilicueta has made 45 appearances for the Blues this season and lifted both the UEFA Super Cup in Belfast and the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, while also helping guide us into two domestic finals and a top-four finish.
Yet the 32-year-old has been linked with a return to his homeland during the next transfer window and Tuchel confirmed that dialogue continues between the parties to agree the best way forward, admitting that Azpilicueta’s recently-completed club trophy haul had also played a part in the defender’s thinking.
‘We had a lot of these talks because I think it felt like he won everything after the Club World Cup so I can understand these thoughts, that maybe a cycle is at its end,’ said the Blues boss.
‘Then there’s also a change of ownership and he played only under this owner so maybe it increased his second thoughts about his situation.
‘His extension kicked in at the same time and he loves the club, he loves the challenge and he loves to be here. He is our captain, we are still in dialogue and at some point we are also selfish because we are not responsible to solve any other club’s problems or to fulfil any other club’s wishes.
‘Given the fact that we lose key defenders already, it’s not the ideal scenario to think about losing Azpi, even though I can understand his personal point of view. At some point, if you are a legend which he is, you deserve from me and the club a second look at it, to see if there’s maybe an exception from the rule and we are still in this process.
‘I would hope strongly [that he stays] and he knows this but we are still in the talks to find out the ideal solution.’
Tuchel claimed that the best solution for him was for Azpilicueta to stay and continue performing at the highest level, praising how pleasing it was to see such a down-to-earth character enjoy so much success.
However, he also claimed that would only be possible if the defender's head and heart were fully focused on the task at hand, which is what the ongoing discussions were aiming to ascertain.
‘He is everything Chelsea is about and I’m so happy that he’s the captain because he’s humble, hard-working and a nice, polite guy,’ continued the boss. ‘I’m happy it sets the example, the tone and the atmosphere on the very highest level.
‘I’m very happy that it’s possible in football for a guy like this to win all the trophies and to really succeed at the top level.
‘This is absolutely clear but there are more layers that we have to consider. He gives all of that if he’s fully committed but if now is maybe the time for him and he cannot get rid of this feeling then we have to talk about it openly, seriously and respectfully because he deserves that.
‘We have to find out if he can give all of what makes him special because he can only be special if he is committed 100 per cent and has not one little second voice in his head. That is his foundation so this is what we have to find out.
‘There’s no need for us to find it out today or tomorrow. We still have time because we are also in the privileged position that we have a contract so let’s see and maybe also he needs to find out for himself.’