Cesar Azpilicueta leaves Chelsea after 11 seasons

Spanish defender expected to join Atletico Madrid as free agent

Cesar Azpilicueta has left Chelsea. PA
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Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has left the Premier League club after 11 seasons, the West London team announced on Thursday.

Azpilicueta had been a mainstay at Chelsea since he arrived from Ligue 1 side Olympique de Marseille in 2012, making more than 500 appearances in all competitions, scoring 17 goals, providing 56 assists and winning every major title with the club.

"Cesar leaves an everlasting mark at Chelsea, as a warrior, as a champion, and as loyal Chelsea legend," Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly and co-controlling owner Behdad Eghbali said in a joint statement.

"He has set the standards at the club for more than a decade and demonstrated to everyone what is required day in, day out to achieve success."

The 33-year-old Spanish defender is expected to join La Liga side Atletico Madrid as a free agent after Chelsea agreed to let him go despite there being 12 months left on his contract.

It means one of Mauricio Pochettino's first tasks as manager will be to appoint a new captain, with regular stand-in from last season Mateo Kovacic having been sold to Manchester City.

He joins the growing list of players to leave Stamford Bridge after the exits of Kalidou Koulibaly, N'Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy, who all joined Saudi Pro League clubs.

Kai Havertz and academy product Mason Mount have signed for rivals Arsenal and Manchester United, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Press Association reported that Levi Colwill will not be leaving Chelsea this summer in spite of continued interest from Liverpool and Brighton.

The club are apparently not willing to entertain offers for the 20-year-old defender, who starred for England Under-21s as they beat Israel 3-0 on Wednesday to advance to the European Championship final in Georgia.

He is currently contracted to Chelsea until the summer of 2024 with an option of another year if certain criteria are met.

Updated: July 06, 2023, 3:15 PM