With a few months still left of the 2021/22 campaign, Barcelona are wasting no time in trying to pad out their squad for the 2022/23 season.
The Catalans might still have to work the free transfer market well, but there are elite players to be had whose contracts are coming to an end, or are about to.
One player who appears to be of definite interest to Joan Laporta and Xavi Hernandez is current Chelsea captain, Cesar Azpilicueta.
The Spaniard has yet to commit himself to the Blues beyond this season, and though he’s the wrong side of 30, he’s proved time and again this season that he still retains the competitive edge required to be a success at the top level.
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Dani Alves may or may not be at the club beyond this season, but if there’s a chance to tie Azpilicueta down, Barcelona need to position themselves to be able to take it.
However, Thomas Tuchel has begun the charm offensive to ensure that his captain stays put at Stamford Bridge.
The German can’t have made it any clearer as to how important Azpilicueta remains for the West Londoners, and he’s making it as difficult as possible for him to walk away.
“He was super important from day one. We had a good connection from the first day, which you always look for as a coach,” Tuchel was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.
“He gets better with every game he plays. He’s an example of a leader who leads by example, which is always super nice to have.
“Now he collects so many trophies and has had an incredible career at one club, which is outstanding.
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“He embodies everything that Chelsea stands for – being relentless, being humble, but being a warrior at the same time.”
Barcelona are going to have to go all out to get their man after that, and may be foiled precisely because of Tuchel’s intervention.