Spanish player Cesar Azpilicueta was on the verge of returning to Spain to sign for Barcelona, but finally decided to stay.
Azpilicueta ,on Monday,admitted he considered leaving the English club last season but decided to stay to help the new owners after the departure of Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, he told ‘The Guardian’ on Monday.
The Chelsea captain and defender signed last week a two-year renewal at what he considers his “home” and thus closed the door on a move to FC Barcelona, with whom he admits he held negotiations to leave London and return to Spain.
That was his intention, he explained, given that Chelsea won the Club World Cup in February, which they entered as Champions League winners in 2021.
“Yes, there were talks (with Barcelona). After the Club World Cup, when I became the only player to have won all the trophies, I felt it was time to come back. But then, with everything that happened to this club, I decided to stay committed to the team. I was never against my club,” says Azpilicueta, 32.
He was referring to the sanctions imposed by the British government on Abramovich for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which forced him to sell the club and make way for new owners, led by American tycoon Todd Boehly.
His previous contract with Chelsea expired this summer and since January he was free to consider other options if he decided to leave the Blues club for good.
“For a while I was a free agent and who knows what would have happened in that time. I decided to keep quiet because I think there was already too much talk around me. I didn’t want to make it worse because I wanted to focus on my game,” confessed the versatile defender, capped by Spain.
He also indicated that his contacts with the new owners led him to make a final decision.
“They wanted me to stay to lead the team both on and off the field. I am very grateful for that. They were very honest and clear from day one,” said Azpilicueta.
Therefore, he added, “I felt a great responsibility” to “stay at home”. “My family is happy here. We have a new project with new players and the arrival of young players. I feel good and ready to look to the future”.