Chelsea captain Azpilicueta could yet be granted free transfer

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta could yet depart for nothing this summer, despite a new 12 month option being triggered.

Azpilicueta had been strongly linked with a move to Barcelona when his current Chelsea deal was due to expire on July 1. But that eventuality, which has been on the cards for much of the season, was placed in doubt on Thursday when it emerged that Azpilicueta had triggered a one-year extension at Stamford Bridge.

The Chelsea captain has made enough appearances this season to trigger an automatic extension until June 2023, meaning a free transfer away from the club is no longer an option.

But with Barcelona keen, Chelsea might simply allow Azpilicueta to leave the club for free, despite the recent contract extension. The Athletic reports that, under Roman Abramovich’s ownership, the Blues would have been willing to let him walk as a courtesy for his services to the club.

The 32-year-old defender, who has repeatedly refused to comment on his future this season, is a certified Chelsea legend, having made 464 appearances – the seventh-most for the club – since signing for £7million from Marseille in 2012.

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