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Azpilicueta makes loyalty dig at Rudiger & Christensen after summer Chelsea departures



IMAGO / Sebastian Frej

Cesar Azpilicueta has explained why loyalty was crucial in his decision to stay at Chelsea last summer after the change of ownership, throwing a slight dig at former teammates Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Rudiger and Christensen failed to agree new deals with Chelsea last season and eventually left last summer on free transfers to join Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively in Spain.

Chelsea were unable to offer either new deals during the period of March to May due to government sanctions placed on former owner Roman Abramovich.

By the time the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership completed their takeover on May 30 last year, it was too late and the duos departures had already been agreed.

Meanwhile, club captain Azpilicueta saw his contract trigger by a further year due to an appearance clause being met, and the new owners opted to extend his deal by an extra year amid interest from Barcelona after a decision was made for the versatile defender to remain at Stamford Bridge.

Azpilicueta has made 25 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea this season and has been of big help to Boehly, Behdad Eghbali and Co, as well as overseeing a managerial change which has seen Graham Potter succeed Thomas Tuchel.

The 33-year-old’s future this summer is unclear as to whether or not he will depart, but he explained why he put the club first last summer, opting to go down a different pathway to Rudiger and Christensen.

Speaking to The Athletic, he said: “It was a matter of loyalty to the club that gave me everything. I had won all the trophies with them. We had been crowned the best club in the world (by winning the FIFA Club World Cup last February). I was also made captain.

“I will not hide or be in a position where I only look after myself. By doing that I would let my team-mates, the manager, the club and the fans down. I know there was a big noise because we had other team-mates in a position where they were free agents. My name was there as well. But I spoke clearly with my actions. They are more important than talking and then doing your own stuff to protect yourself.

“I ended up signing another contract, with the confidence from the new ownership and in the new era. I have no regrets.”

Chelsea are in a difficult position, as things stand, sitting in ninth in the Premier League and ten points off the top four. They remain in the Champions League, with a Round of 16 tie against Borussia Dortmund awaiting them next week, giving them some hope of qualifying for next season’s competition.

It’s going to take some run to achieve Champions League football next term, something Azpilicueta is refusing to give up on.

He added: “At the moment we are not where we want to be. We are out of two cups, but we still have the two biggest ones — the Premier League and the Champions League.

“No one expected us to win the Champions League in 2021. In the Premier League, we have to have a very strong second half of the season to reach the top four, but it’s in our hands. I refuse to give up on that.”