Report: Chelsea star will no longer be free to leave after automatic contract extension

Barcelona’s pursuit of Cesar Azpilicueta has become more complicated as the Chelsea captain will no longer be a free agent at the end of the season, according to Marca.

The La Liga club is looking to reinforce the right side of their team in the summer with Azpilicueta being their number one target, the report claims.

The Spain international’s contract at Chelsea was set to expire this summer and Barcelona reportedly planned to sign him on a free transfer.

However, it is not as straightforward now.

Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Marca claims that an automatic one-year extension in Azpilicueta’s contract with Chelsea has now become active after the player made more than 30 appearances this season.

In total, he has featured 32 times for Chelsea, excluding the UEFA Super Cup earlier this season.

Based on this, Azpilicueta will no longer be a free agent in the summer. Barcelona, on the other hand, are reportedly not willing to pay a transfer fee.

There might be an alternative solution, though, a diplomatic one, according to the report.

The 32-year-old could talk to Chelsea into allowing him to join Barcelona on a free transfer, but he reportedly does not want to disrespect the London club as well.

Azpilicueta, the report added, wants a friendly solution, and he is working on it with the club.

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Chelsea currently not in position to allow players to leave

To be fair, given what he has achieved for the club, the former Marseille star has arguably earned the right to such a request, if, as the report suggested, he wants to return to his home country.

However, Chelsea are clearly in a difficult situation after the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich by the UK government which, as it stands, prevents the club from offering new deals or signing new players.

Azpilicueta’s reported automatic contract extension should be a big relief for the Blues.

It will be a different story if Chelsea will be allowed to operate in the transfer market after the expected change of ownership at the club after which they may consider allowing Azpilicueta to decide his future.

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A Chelsea fan who loves football statistics. Studied sports journalism at the University of Sunderland.