Cesar Azpilicueta looks set to remain at Chelsea this summer following the sanctions imposed on owner Roman Abramovich and will not get his dream move to Barcelona, according to reports.
The 32-year-old, who has been at Stamford Bridge for a decade, was expected to leave when his contract expires at the end of the season and has held talks with Barca over a return to Spain on a free transfer.
That move seemed to now be a formality after news of Abramovich’s sanctions broke, with Chelsea now unable to offer new contracts while their owner’s assets are frozen.
But, according to Spanish newspaper AS, there has been a twist in the contract saga with Azpilicueta having already triggered a one-year extension that ties him to the club.
The defender had a clause in his contract which meant that, if he played 30 matches for the club this season, they would have the option to extend his deal until 2023
Club captain Azpilicueta crossed that benchmark in February and AS claim Chelsea have already taken up their option.
But Azpilicueta had remained in talks with Barcelona and was confident of convincing Chelsea to let him leave for a nominal fee – or even on a free – as a good will gesture following his long service to the club.
That will no longer be allowed to happen, however, with the sanctions imposed on Abramovich meaning the club are unable to conduct any transfer business – incomings or outgoings.
Moreover, with Chelsea unable to strengthen their squad for the foreseeable future, they will have no desire to let Azpilicueta leave and weaken their options even further.
Barca intend to remain in contact with the versatile defender, but will only be able to sign Azpilicueta if the sanctions on Abramovich are lifted.
The Catalan giants are also chasing fellow Chelsea contract rebel Andreas Christensen, a deal which now looks extremely likely to happen with the Blues unable to offer new deals, while Antonio Rudiger is also set to leave the club.
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