Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez is busy rebuilding his team and already has plans in place to revamp the defense in the summer transfer window ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
Xavi wants to bring in Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta on a free transfer and considers the 32-year-old Spain international to be “a priority” for his new project, as reported by Javi Miguel at Diario AS.
The Barcelona coach values Azpilicueta’s versatility, as he can play at full-back or as a center-back, and also admires the Chelsea defender’s character and leadership qualities.
Azpilicueta has won every major title available since joining Chelsea from Marseille in 2012 but is facing an uncertain future at Stamford Bridge, particularly with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich having confirmed he plans to sell the club.
The defender is into the final few months of his deal with the Premier League side, and has yet to agree an extension, while Barcelona have offered Azpilicueta a two-year contract with the option for one more season.
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Barcelona Set For New-Look Defense?
Barcelona could be set for a new-look defense for next season with the Catalans targeting several free agents to boost their backline. A deal for Azpilicueta’s Chelsea teammate Andreas Christensen is “99%” agreed.
The Catalan giants are also targeting Ajax right-back Noussair Mazraoui, who will also be a free agent in the summer, and want to add a new left-back to the squad to provide competition for Jordi Alba, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
The new arrivals will join Gerard Pique, Ronald Araujo, Eric Garcia, Alba, Sergino Dest, and Dani Alves at the Camp Nou, although Barca are willing to listen to offers for Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, and Oscar Mingueza.
Sergi Roberto could also depart this summer. The versatile 30-year-old, who can play in defense or further forward in midfield, is out of contract at the Camp Nou and yet to sign an extension.
Chelsea Fear Player Exodus
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has admitted the sale of the club could have an impact on players who are out of contract in the summer. The German told a news conference it’s a tough situation to predict.
“You never know maybe it has a positive effect on the negotiations or maybe it has a negative effect,” he said. “We cannot predict and I would like not to predict on scenarios because you just lose focus, but everyone has a different situation and feels different about it (the sale). I hope for the best outcome still, I think we have something to offer still. Chelsea are a strong club and will stay a strong club. The bottom line is maybe we can’t help it – it is what it is.”
Azpilicueta is one of several Chelsea players out of contract in the summer. Fellow defenders Christensen and Toni Rudiger will also be free agents and could depart the Premier League side.