Cesar Azpilicueta says he has stayed ‘at home’ by signing a Chelsea contract extension but admits their Club World Cup win, which ensured he won every possible trophy for the club, made him consider a new challenge.
Captain Azpilicueta signed a two-year deal last week to end doubts about his future with Barcelona having been keen to sign him this summer.
He was due to be out of contract at the end of last season before triggering a one-year extension after hitting a pre-agreed number of appearances in March.
Cesar Azpilicueta expressed his delight after deciding to remain ‘at home’ at Chelsea
The 32 year-old defender said: ‘I am really happy. Of course, it has been a crazy last few months. It felt right to carry on my journey here in a new project and I am really looking forward to the new season.
‘It’s true that it is a very rare situation. For a period I was a free agent and who knows what could have happened in that period. I was out of contract until March. I played the games [to trigger a one year renewal] but the club was still under sanctions so everybody can talk for you and your name.
‘I decided to stay silent because I think there was already enough noise around me.
Azpilicueta considered leaving after Chelsea lifted the Club World Cup, which meant he was the only player to win every possible trophy with the club
‘My actions spoke for themselves. I stayed committed to the club, I played the games and that’s even though I didn’t know what was going to happen. The new owners arrived and we had very honest conversations. I decided that it was right to stay at home.
‘The conversations were there [with Barcelona]. All surrounding the club. After the Club World Cup where I became the only player to ever win every trophy, [I felt] it was the time to go back [to Spain]. But then everything happened with this club. I wanted to stay committed to the club. I never did anything against my club. We had private conversations where I said everything.’
Azpilicueta opened up further on the dilemma February’s Club World Cup win in Abu Dhabi created.
‘It was a turning point at the Club World Cup. I tried so hard to win this trophy. My last trophy remaining so I could be the only player who has won every trophy for the club,’ he said.
‘At that moment, I felt differently. It was like wow I have won everything for this club so maybe a new chapter arrives. It’s true that at the last break, my performances were not as good as before. I paid a big price for playing from December to February. I think I played the most minutes and I did it playing wing back. Of course, I am not getting younger and it is a position that demands a lot of energy every three days and playing the Club World Cup. I think all the emotions, feelings and tiredness made me feel like this. The last two months I wasn’t as good physically as before.’
By staying put, Azpilicueta will be part of a new era at Chelsea following the Todd Boehly/Clearlake Capital takeover.
Boehly was particularly keen to keep Azpilicueta such was the importance he placed on the Spaniard and his leadership qualities.
Azpilicueta said: ‘I am really excited otherwise [I wouldn’t sign]. I am very honest and I had conversations with them. We expressed our opinions and I had a meeting with the owners.
‘They wanted me to stay here to lead the team both on and off the pitch. It’s a big thank you to them.
‘They were very honest and transparent from the first day. I felt a responsibility to stay here in my home. My family are happy here.
‘We have a new project with new players and youngsters coming in. I feel right and ready to look forward.’