Chelsea: 'No way' £150k-a-week star should start at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea manager Graham Potter

Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta has suffered a ‘very clear’ decline in the early stages of the current campaign, according to journalist Simon Phillips.

The 33-year-old has been an outstanding servant for the Blues, but it seems as though his age is finally catching up with him just weeks after he penned a new contract with the club.

What is the latest news involving Azpilicueta?

Azpilicueta was strongly linked with a move to Barcelona throughout the summer as they looked for cheap ways to improve their options along the backline.

The Spain international’s previous deal was due to expire last June, but a performance-related clause was activated to ensure his stay was automatically extended by a further 12 months.

Azpilicueta then penned fresh terms worth £150,000-per-week until the summer of 2024 with new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly reportedly key to him committing his future to the west London outfit.

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Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen had already departed Stamford Bridge for pastures new and losing a third option at centre-back could have caused major problems.

However, Azpilicueta has been unable to replicate his best form in the opening weeks of 2022/23 and may find himself dropping further down the pecking order under new manager Graham Potter.

What has Phillips said about Azpilicueta?

It’s been a difficult start to the season for Chelsea, who saw former boss Thomas Tuchel sacked after just seven games.

And Phillips believes that there is ‘no way’ Azpilicueta can continue to start games under Potter following his hugely underwhelming displays of late.

In an interview with GiveMeSport, he said: “Azpilicueta, his decline is very clear to see now for all Chelsea fans, I think, and there’s no way he can continue to start games, and I don’t think he will.”

How poor has Azpilicueta been playing?

Azpilicueta has made 483 appearances for Chelsea across all competitions since arriving from Marseille back in 2012, claiming every trophy available to him along the way.

This season, the versatile star has made seven outings and has been largely disappointing in all of them, contributing to his side’s struggles.

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As per WhoScored, Azpilicueta has won 1.6 aerial duels while averaging 1.2 tackles per top-flight fixture, placing him outside the top six for each metric amongst his teammates.

It remains to be seen if Azpilicueta can regain his form or whether the Chelsea legend’s time at the club is coming to an end.

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