Glen Johnson has called on Chelsea to renew the contract of captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
The Spaniard’s deal is set to expire at the end of the season and no agreement on a renewal has been reached. Chelsea fans are growing anxious with Azpilicueta being linked to clubs like Barcelona as he enters the final six months of his current deal.
Speaking exclusively to Squawka, former Chelsea right-back Johnson said he believes the Blues have to sort out a new deal for Azpilicueta, especially given uncertainty around other players in their defence.
“I would [offer him a new contract], yeah,” said Johnson, when asked if he would ensure Azpilicueta stayed at the club. “You see the thing is, especially when [Antonio] Rudiger and [Andreas] Christensen’s futures haven’t been sorted yet. You can go and sign another player but you can’t go and sign another player with that experience who’s going to be happy around the camp.”
Johnson paid tribute to Azpilicueta’s professionalism and leadership qualities and how he sets an example for Chelsea’s many young players: “He’s not going to play as much as he wants, but most players would kick their toys out of the pram but this guy doesn’t. I think for the dressing room he’d be good to have around the youngsters as well.”
Azpilicueta joined Chelsea from Marseille in 2012 for £7million, and has since gone on to play over 450 games, start regularly in four different positions and lift a massive eight trophies, including both the Europa League and Champions League as captain.
“I think he’s been fantastic,” Johnson added. “I don’t think he was the player they were trying to sign in terms of a flying fullback, but he’s super versatile, he’s a super professional, he doesn’t moan when he’s not playing and plays anywhere along the back four, or back three, and players like that are hard to come by.”
The modern trend for full-backs is to be attacking dynamos, but even though Azpilicueta isn’t like that, Johnson still thinks his rugged approach makes him worth it; “he might not be the most exciting fullback in terms of flying forward and doing what some others are doing but he’ll certainly do a job, you’ll know what you’re going to get out of him and he’s been around for ages.”
Finally, Johnson remarked on Azpilicueta’s success, and why that experience makes him valuable: “He’s won pretty much everything there is to win. Those players you have to be careful of losing. That experience is not easy to get.”
Speaking in January, Azpilicueta insisted that he is committed to finishing the season strong with Chelsea when providing an update on his future.
“As I always said, I feel I have the trust and confidence of the club and now I am focused on every game,” he told Chelsea’s official website.
“They are very tough games, and I am enjoying the moment. Eventually the moment will come, but I am fully focused on hopefully getting as many trophies as we can and then we will see.
“I cannot say anything more than that I am really committed and have a lot of things ahead in the coming months and hopefully we can have a very good season.”
While Manchester City may be on course to win the Premier League title, there’s still plenty for Chelsea to play for this season.
They are already in the EFL Cup final, where they will face Liverpool, and could yet win the Club World Cup for the first time in their history.
Chelsea are 3.9/1 with Betfair to win both competitions this season.
(Odds in this article are correct at the time of writing. 18+ only, BeGambleAware.org)