Azpilicueta explains the clause that kept him at Chelsea

Cesar Azpilicueta appeared set to join Barcelona this summer, but at the last minute he ended up not only staying at Chelsea, but also signing a new two year deal.

In a really fascinating interview with Simon Johnson in the Athletic today, Azpi explained how the whole thing went down.

It turns out the talk of an automatic extension was true. The full back needed to play at least 45 minutes in at least 30 games last season to have an extra year added, and after Reece James’ injury that became almost inevitable.

But even then, by the time January came around he was well short, and he had plenty of chances to sign pre-contracts elsewhere.

“I didn’t get to the 30 total until March and, by then, we were already operating under sanctions,” the full back said.

“I could have signed an agreement in January to join a team abroad as a free agent in the summer, but I never had it in my mind. I wanted to be with the club during a difficult situation.

“I had better options in terms of contract years and salary elsewhere, but that’s not what I wanted to do. I’ve been here for over 10 years. I’ve had a chance to create an amazing relationship with the fans, the club, employees. I could not leave.

“Even though I knew what triggering the clause would mean, my heart, my head didn’t allow me to do anything other than keep being ready for every match and playing 30 games. I did not know who the owner was going to be or what situation we were going to end up in, but that is how I felt.”

What a relief he did stay, as inevitably within the first two months of this season James had gone down hurt again, and once again Azpi has had to step into the breach.

Next year there will be more cover, when Malo Gusto arrives, but Cesar will still be there, ready to be called on, as always.

Chelsea News