FC Barcelona, after their initial troubles in the transfer window, has had an almost perfect window. The window started with the signing of two excellent free agents, Kessie and Christensen. Then came a big boy, singing Raphinha from Leeds for a hefty fee of 50 million.
Then came perhaps the signing of the season, Robert Lewandoski. Lewandoski’s journey to Barcelona in itself has a peculiar story. But one thing that was clearly highlighted was Barcelona’s willingness to strengthen its attack at the cost of its defense. Barcelona, throughout the last decade, has always struggled defensively.
Even in their joy of attacking signings, Barca always had their defensive loopholes at the back of their mind. Barcelona is now actively trying its best to hijack the Jules Kounde deal from Chelsea. The Kounde transfer has become another long-awaited saga of this transfer window. We have seen conflicting reports of Koude agreeing to join either Barcelona or Chelsea.
Irrespective of the Kounde deal, Barcelona has set its sights on another defender, Cesar Azpillicueta. Azpilicueta to Barcelona is always discussed. The Veteran Spanish defender has gained prominence in the past few seasons.
Cesar Azpilicueta’s Journey
The Spaniard started his journey at Osasuna back in 2007. He later joined Marsliie, the French side. Over here, he gained prominence and enjoyed a fair bit of success. In 2012, the defender was signed by Premier League giants Chelsea. At Chelsea, Azpilicueta had an incredible journey. He enjoyed a lot of success playing in their backline. Originally signed as a right back, he soon made a shift to the opposite wing. Azpilicueta soon became Chelsea’s No. 1 left-back for years to come.
Under Conte, back in 2018, Azpilicueta again made the switch to playing as a center-back. Soon after, he was named the “The Blues” captain after the departures of Gary Cahill and Chelsea legend John Terry.
Then again, under Thomas Tuchel, he was in the limelight. Thomas Tuchel used a 3 at the back system. On the right-hand side of the Chelsea defense, Azpilicueta was either used as a wing-back or as a center-back. Azpilicueta flourished under Tuchel and ended up winning the Champions League as Chelsea captain.
Last season too, he was a very influential figure in Chelsea’s journey to reaching 2 domestic Cup finals. Overall, he made 400 plus appearances for Chelsea and got his name in “The Blues” record books.
The Transfer News
Since the arrival of Xavi Hernandez at Barcelona last season, there have been rumors regarding Azpilicueta. Xavi has always demanded an experienced player in his defense who can guide Barcelona’s young backline. Several reports are suggesting Barcelona and Cesar Azpillicueta already had an agreement in place on personal terms. According to reports, the Spaniard will be earning 5 to 6 million net on a 2-year contract. But then, the only blockage in this deal is his current club, Chelsea. They don’t want him to leave for cheap and also without signing a proper replacement.
But one question which many of you might have is: why is Barcelona so actively in pursuit of Cesar Azpilicueta? A few reasons why Cesar Azpilicueta is perfectly suited for FC Barcelona are –
3 Reasons Why Cesar Azpilicueta is perfect for Barcelona
1. The Versatility and Positional Awareness
One quality that Azpilicueta possesses that no other Barca defender has is his versatility. Cezar can fit in at any position throughout the backline. He can play on either wing, either left or right, with the same effectiveness. He can also fit in as center back either as LCM or RCM (preferred) in a 3 at the back formation and also adapt to playing as the center back in traditionally 4-3-3 of Barca. Along with his versatility. He is also a strong center-back who isn’t easily beaten, be it in the air or in 1v1s. Azpilicueta also has positional awareness and most of the time we have seen him in the right place at the right time.
2. The Experienced Leader At The Back
Another season for Barcelona going for the Spanish international is his leadership skills. Cesar Azpilicueta has been the vocal leader at the back. He has seen him instructing his teammates at times at Chelsea. This current Barcelona crop lacks a leader since the departure of Andres Iniesta. Azpilicueta can perfectly fit into a leadership role.
“He is maybe the perfect example to describe, as a person and leader, what I tried to explain with a lot of words at the beginning. He is just doing what he is doing and he’s doing it in good times and bad times. Cesar is doing it over and over again,” were the words of Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea’s current manager)
At 33, he has played a lot of competitive football at the highest level and has got the experience and winning mentality. His experience will help the young Barcelona defenders in their development and his never say die attitude will lift the team’s spirits in crucial games. Azpilicueta has just recently won the Champions League, which has been Barcelona’s dream for a long time.
3. Excellent Backup /Squad Player
Another season that puts Azpilicueta on Barcelona’s perfect list is his mere presence on his bench. If Barcelona, as planned, gets both Jules Kounde and Marcus Alonso and then also signs Azpilicueta, it would be beneficial for the
Catalans. Owing to his versatility, as we have discussed above, Xavi Hernandes would love to have a player of his caliber on the bench. At 33, you cannot expect the Spanish international to feature a day in and day out in the starting XI. Any coach would love to bring on Azpilicueta from the bench in crucial moments. Where his calming influence can be a crucial factor in tipping the game in your favor.
Another added advantage of signing Cesar Azpilicueta is the economic side of things. He won’t cost that much as opposed to signing a young center-back in this inflated transfer market. Also, his salary and contract length won’t be an issue, and this signing can be easily wrapped up.
Overall speaking from all ongoing scenarios and inflated transfer market and keeping in mind the caliber of the player. Cesar Azpilicueta can finally be a piece in the missing jigsaw of Barcelona’s defense.
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