On the August 24 in 2012, Chelsea completed the signing of Marseille right-back Cesar Azpilicueta for £7million.
Not well known at the time, the young Spaniard may have been signed to play as a back-up to Branislav Ivanovic, and to start with this was the case. Under Roberto Di Matteo he rarely made the team, only being played in the Capital One Cup.
When Di Matteo was sacked, Azpilicueta’s fellow countryman, Rafael Benitez was installed as interim first team manager. This was the moment that Azpilicueta got his opportunity to make the right-back spot his, and that is what he did. It’s hard to think of a bad game Azpilicueta had during that spell, keeping the likes of Gareth Bale quiet against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
His string of excellent performances led to a call-up to his national side, and played the entire 90 minutes on his debut against Uruguay in a 3-1 victory.
At the start of this season, Azpilicueta once again found himself struggling to get into the starting eleven under new boss Jose Mourinho. He returned late to pre-season training after the Confederations Cup and Mourinho preferred to use Ivanovic at right-back.
After an injury to Ashley Cole, the Chelsea manager chose Azpilicueta over Ryan Bertrand to play in the back four. In his unnatural position, Azpilicueta has as to this moment, has never had a bad game, to my knowledge. Now Mourinho considers him as the first choice on the left side of defence, leaving Ashley Cole to sit on the bench. Who would have thought that would happen at the start of the season?
Cesar Azpilicueta is certainly a mouthful, to which extent the fans have given him the knickname “Dave”. He is certainly a fan favourite and the blues supporters constantly chant during games, “Azpilicueta, we'll just call you Dave”.
It would be very surprising to me if Azpilicueta wasn’t selected in the Spain squad for the World Cup. A versatile defender who is full of running, Del Bosque would be silly to pick Alvaro Arbeloa over him.
Pablo Zabaleta may be considered by many as the best right-back in the Premier League, but in my opinion, Azpilicueta is better defensively. If he can improve his play going forward, Azpilicueta will be considered as one of the best full-backs in the world, not just by Chelsea fans.
The problem he has now is he is the best right and left-back at the club, but Ivanovic is performing better than Cole so Azpilicueta will be on the left for the foreseeable future. If Luke Shaw is signed in the summer, you would expect him to move to his preferred position, but nobody knows with Mourinho.
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