Athletic Bilbao plot January move for Chelsea defender

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Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta has been linked with a return to Spain, as Athletic Bilbao prepare a bid when the transfer window reopens in January, reports the Daily Express.

The 24-year-old has struggled to hold down a regular first-team spot in west London, with Branislav Ivanovic still the preferred choice at right-back for the reigning Europa League champions.

Blues boss Jose Mourinho has continued to overlook the former Spain U21 international, who might push for a move away from Stamford Bridge if opportunities remain difficult to come by.

With one eye on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil next summer, Azpilicueta knows he needs to be playing regularly in order to be considered for a place in Vicente del Bosque's 23-man squad.

Ernesto Valverde is himself on the lookout for a new full-back to provide competition for Androni Iraola, and according to reports in Spain will press ahead with an attempt to lure the Chelsea outcast to San Mames at the turn of the year.

Azpilicueta was named in the starting XI for the first time in 2013/14 for Chelsea's Capital One Cup clash against Swindon Town at the County Ground on Tuesday evening.

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