If ever a list featuring all of Chelsea’s all-time greats is made, then defender César Azpilicueta’s name will certainly feature in the top five. The Spaniard has enjoyed a stellar career at Stamford Bridge. He joined the club in 2012 (from Marseille) and rose through the ranks to become one of Chelsea’s most reliable defenders.
Managers kept changing, but Azpilicueta has not been out the starting XI. He has always been a vital cog in the wheel for the Blues. Well, his numbers don’t end up highlighting the impact he has had on the team’s performance. In 246 games for Chelsea, Azpilicueta has scored just six goals.
The managers simply love him because he is a utility player. Left Back, Right Back or Full Back, he could play just about anywhere. Moving on, he was an equally-dangerous weapon when he came forward. Managers wanted him because he could fit just about anywhere.
A dip in form or something else?
The veteran’s splendour seems to be fading in the past two seasons. Countless chinks can be seen in Azpilicueta’s armour. The Spaniard was responsible for two of the four goals scored by Manchester United in the match against Chelsea during this season’s opening weekend.
The 30-year-old has been under scrutiny for quite some time. Many believe he is becoming a weak spot within the line-up. Oppositions seem to have noticed the vulnerability engulfing Azpilicueta. At present, he is being attacked from all possible sides.
Some of the defender’s biggest fans believe that the veteran is going through a rough patch. They believe he will come back all guns blazing. In all fairness, Cesar Azpilicueta is a seasoned campaigner. He brings a wealth of experience along. The youngsters in Chelsea’s ranks have a lot to learn from him.
No matter how good a footballer you are, you will come across at least one lean match in your career. Not even the finest footballers in the history of the game could manage to remain untouched by it, and Azpilicueta happens to be no exception. But Azpilicueta has the ability to bounce back. The moment you think he’s down and out, he’ll stand up on his feet and overpower you with all his might.
At 30, he isn’t old, but the clock is ticking on him. If he doesn’t fulfill the team’s expectations, then he might end up losing captaincy. Forget captaincy; he might even end up losing his place in the side.
Fortunately for Frank Lampard, the team has Azpilicueta’s replacement in Reece James. The 19-year-old has been creating ripples in the world of football. Also, he is one of the most promising youngsters in the Premier League circuit at present.
In order to get the best out of him, the management needs to provide him with sufficient game time. To begin with, he can play under Azpilicueta’s shadow. Once he gets accustomed to the setup, he can be provided with a few liberties.
Azpilicueta has a lot of football left in him. You cannot write him off at 30. He is not someone who will lose sleep over diminishing returns. Give him some time, and he will show you what he’s got.