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Friday, December 3, 2021

Barcelona prepare to take Chelsea legend on free transfer

  Chelsea earned a hard fought victory over Watford on Wednesday evening, as Hakim Ziyech’s late goal was enough to see off a Hornets side w...

 

Chelsea earned a hard fought victory over Watford on Wednesday evening, as Hakim Ziyech’s late goal was enough to see off a Hornets side who had dominated for large parts of the game.


After the final whistle, Thomas Tuchel admitted that his side had ‘stolen three points’ from relegation-threatened Watford, who had cancelled out Mason Mount’s opener with Emmanuel Dennis’ sixth goal of the campaign in the first half.

Both sides were operating with depleted squads, with the hosts missing a number of important players and the Blues making six changes to the side that drew with Manchester United on Sunday. One notable name missing from the visitors’ match day squad entirely was Reece James, arguably Chelsea’s best player so far this season.

The Englishman was out through injury and Cesar Azpilicueta stepped into the right wing-back role in his absence. Now, speculation is building around the future of the Spaniard, with a return to his homeland reportedly being arranged. As per Marca, Spanish giants Barcelona are preparing to make an offer to sign Azpilicueta when his contract in West London expires at the end of the season.

The report suggests that the Blues captain, who has spent nearly a decade with the club, has been identified as a top target to bolster the Catalan club’s options at right-back.

Sergio Dest and Sergi Roberto have both struggled of late and, while Dani Alves has returned to the Nou Camp, the 39-year-old’s age will likely prevent him from playing too regularly. Azpilicueta’s versatility across the backline is also said to be an attractive factor for Barca, who are allegedly hoping to agree a deal directly with the player in January.

As per current rules, any player who is due to be out of contract next summer is able to agree a pre-contract agreement with any foreign club in January. This is ominous for the Blues, as Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Thiago Silva are all also due to be out of contract at the end of the season.

Chelsea are believed, however, to have made Azpilicueta an offer, and they remain hopeful that he will sign it and extend his stay in the capital.

Since joining the club from Marseille in the summer of 2012, the 32-year-old has made more than 440 appearance for the club, winning eight trophies in the process, including a Champions League and two Premier League titles to give him legendary status.

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