EPL

Azpilicueta felt 'responsibility to stay' at Chelsea 'home' after sanctions

By Sports Desk August 08, 2022

Cesar Azpilicueta has admitted he came close to leaving Chelsea for Barcelona last season, but that he ultimately felt a responsibility to remain "in my home".

The Blues skipper penned a new two-year contract extension earlier this month, to end weeks of speculation over his future, after the club triggered a 12-month extension clause before his prior deal expired amid the off-season.

The Spaniard completed a sweep of major honours at Stamford Bridge with the Club World Cup in February, and says that he felt ready to consider a move back to his home country in the aftermath.

But the subsequent sanctions imposed against owner Roman Abramovich amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine saw him have a change of heart, with a desire to stand by the team as they transitioned to the Todd Boehly era.

"Yes the conversations were there [with Barcelona]," Azpilicueta was quoted by The Guardian. "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.

"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. We had players leaving, and I have never been in a transfer market situation in 10 years. It was different. For a period I was a free agent.

"Who knows what could have happened in that period. I decided to stay silent because I think there was already enough noise around me. I didn’t want to make it worse because I wanted to stay focused on my game.

"I had a meeting with the new 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."

Azpilicueta started Chelsea's first game of the new Premier League season on Saturday, as Thomas Tuchel's side ran out 1-0 victors against Everton.

The Blues next face Tottenham, in an early test of their top four credentials, on Sunday.

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