Cesar Azpilicueta. Sounds like a spicy Spanish dish with green salad. Far from it. Indeed, Andre Villas-Boas was extremely interested in adding Azpilicueta to his Chelsea squad six months ago, making a £12 million offer in order to bring him to Stamford Bridge and replace Jose Bosingwa. And now with Roberto Di Matteo inching closer to the right-back's signature, that makes it all the better reason to focus on the Spanish Justin Bieber look-a-like from Marseille.
Azpilicueta arrived in France in June, 2010. The Olympique de Marseille’s coach, Didier Deschamps was happy enough to spend £5.5 million on the young Spanish right back who was in Vincente Del Bosque’s preselection for the 2010 Football World Cup. He came from Pamplona where he played for three seasons (2007-2010) as a product of CA Osasuna’s youth system. He started his career as a right winger but managed to make his way up to first-choice right back in the first team.
The difficult French debut
Unfortunately, his first steps in the Ligue 1, the French championship, were deemed disappointing. In fact, on his first match - Azpi, as he is nicknamed, really suffered with Yussef El-Arabi, the former Caen’s striker, who gave him a rough ride. To make matters worse, on his Champions League debut, he scored an own goal against Spartak Moscow and it did not take long before the French media started to heap criticism on the U21 Spain captain. Eric Di Meco, who formerly played for Marseille, asserted that he would eat a rat if this Azpilicueta was really to be the future of the Spanish national football team. Here is the famous french sense of gastronomy for you.
Nevertheless, Azpilicueta was convinced to show he was not a rip off. After a couple of weeks, he stepped up his game, handled with Marseille's pressure and definitely convinced Didier Deschamps with his competitive spirit, his skills and his secret arm: the extra-long throw (Rory Delap style). Then, his youth and dynamism finally seduced the fans.
The god damn injury
On November, 27th2010, Azpi ruptured the anterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee. In 15 matches, he delivered only 1 assist but he was an important part of the offensive tactics and had to deal with this injury for six months before coming back on the pitch. In the Deschamps’ tactical system, Azpilicueta must participate to the wide attacks, cross the ball while being as harsh and fierce as possible on man-to-man defence.
Though he is now in the first team, Azpilicueta could leave Marseille for Chelsea. In fact, Vincent Labrune, Marseille’s president, has said he will have to sell some players due to the club's budget issues. If this is the case, Didier Deschamps will still have Rod Fanni, a French international player, and will probably let Azpi go to England following such an impressive offer from Chelsea. So watch out, 22-year-old Azpilicueta could be the next right back resident at Stamford Bridge.
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