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.

Related items

  • Ronaldo stayed on United bench for Man City mauling 'out of respect', says Ten Hag Ronaldo stayed on United bench for Man City mauling 'out of respect', says Ten Hag

    Erik ten Hag decided not to introduce Cristiano Ronaldo in Manchester United's 6-3 derby thrashing by Manchester City as a mark of "respect" towards the forward.

    Ronaldo was an unused substitute as hat-tricks from Erling Haaland and Phil Foden handed City a dominant derby win on Sunday, despite Ten Hag using all five of his permitted changes.

    Anthony Martial scored twice after his second-half introduction to salvage a touch of pride for United, while Victor Lindelof, Fred, Casemiro and Luke Shaw also appeared from the bench.

    Having failed in an apparent bid to leave Old Trafford in the recent transfer window, Ronaldo has been a peripheral figure under Ten Hag, making one Premier League start this season – in a 4-0 defeat to Brentford.

    Speaking at a post-match news conference, Ten Hag explained his rationale for failing to call upon the 37-year-old, saying: "I wouldn't bring him in out of respect for Cristiano, for his big career.

    "The other thing was the advantage that I could bring on Anthony Martial. He needs the minutes, but I don't want to point it out like that."

    Ronaldo has appeared as a substitute five times in the Premier League this season, failing to score a single goal.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been limited to just one goal in all competitions this campaign, a penalty against Sheriff in a Europa League group-stage tie.

    Ronaldo will hope to feature when United travel to Cyprus to face Omonia in the Europa League on Thursday, with the Red Devils trailing Real Sociedad by three points in Group E.

  • 'It comes from his mum and dad' – Guardiola labels Haaland a born goalscorer after Manchester derby treble 'It comes from his mum and dad' – Guardiola labels Haaland a born goalscorer after Manchester derby treble

    Pep Guardiola described Erling Haaland as a born goalscorer after he claimed another hat-trick in Manchester City's derby rout of Manchester United, declaring: "what he is doing, I didn't teach him".

    Haaland continued his fine start to life in England by playing a central role in City's 6-3 win over United, clinching a treble and adding two assists for fellow hat-trick hero Phil Foden.

    The Norwegian – who has already hit 17 goals in all competitions this season – became the first player in Premier League history to score hat-tricks in three successive home games on Sunday.

    His tally of five goal contributions at the Etihad Stadium, meanwhile, is the most recorded by a player in a single Premier League Manchester Derby.

    Guardiola refused to take credit for the striker's form after the win, saying: "I said it many times and I will say again – what Erling is doing, he did in Norway, Austria and Germany.

    "The quality we have alongside him helps him score, but what he is doing, I didn't teach him.

    "He has incredible instincts. It comes from his mum and dad. He was born with that."

    As well as laying on two goals for Foden, Haaland created a game-high four chances on Sunday, and Guardiola was delighted by the quality of his link-up play.

    "I have had incredible centre-forwards in my career," Guardiola continued. "What I liked was in the last period of the game, he was involved. I want him to be involved.

    "He became a player to score goals, but I want him in contact with the ball. I like him being part of those situations.

    "But of course, he has to put the ball in the net, and he is a fantastic striker." 

    Haaland has started all 11 of City's competitive games this term, and Guardiola plans to offer him the opportunity to rest at some point. 

    "He will take a break. There will be games he is not going to play," he said.

    "We are lucky, last season he could not play many games in a row – here we have incredible physios and thanks to them, he can play every 90 minutes.

    "They are so important – with their hands, they allow players to play."

  • 'It comes from his mum and dad' – Guardiola labels Haaland a born goalscorer after derby treble 'It comes from his mum and dad' – Guardiola labels Haaland a born goalscorer after derby treble

    Pep Guardiola described Erling Haaland as a born goalscorer after he claimed another hat-trick in Manchester City's derby rout of Manchester United, declaring: "what he is doing, I didn't teach him".

    Haaland continued his fine start to life in England by playing a central role in City's 6-3 win over United, clinching a treble and adding two assists for fellow hat-trick hero Phil Foden.

    The Norwegian – who has already hit 17 goals in all competitions this season – became the first player in Premier League history to score hat-tricks in three successive home games on Sunday.

    His tally of five goal contributions at the Etihad Stadium, meanwhile, is the most recorded by a player in a single Premier League Manchester Derby.

    Guardiola refused to take credit for the striker's form after the win, saying: "I said it many times and I will say again – what Erling is doing, he did in Norway, Austria and Germany.

    "The quality we have alongside him helps him score, but what he is doing, I didn't teach him.

    "He has incredible instincts. It comes from his mum and dad. He was born with that."

    As well as laying on two goals for Foden, Haaland created a game-high four chances on Sunday, and Guardiola was delighted by the quality of his link-up play.

    "I have had incredible centre-forwards in my career," Guardiola continued. "What I liked was in the last period of the game, he was involved. I want him to be involved.

    "He became a player to score goals, but I want him in contact with the ball. I like him being part of those situations.

    "But of course, he has to put the ball in the net, and he is a fantastic striker." 

    Haaland has started all 11 of City's competitive games this term, and Guardiola plans to offer him the opportunity to rest at some point. 

    "He will take a break. There will be games he is not going to play," he said.

    "We are lucky, last season he could not play many games in a row – here we have incredible physios and thanks to them, he can play every 90 minutes.

    "They are so important – with their hands, they allow players to play."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.