World Cup Squad Selector: Azpilicueta

Football can bring huge joy and great disappointment and nobody knows that more than Cesar Azpilicueta. The Chelsea defender is still only 24 but he has had some big highs and terrible lows in his career. It is the lows that have driven him to become one of the best full backs in the Premier League and now he looks set to make his mark on the world stage. And if rumours are to be believed from Spain, he looks set to be a starter in Brazil.

Born in a city that is more famous for its bull running than football, Azpilicueta was snapped up by his home club Osasuna. As he came up through the ranks those in charge closely followed his progress and he made his debut against Real Madrid whilst still playing for the B team at 17. Azpi’s displays in training convinced his Coaches that he could make the jump to the senior team full time and so he was a first team regular when he was just 18. At first Cesar was played in midfield but started to play a more defensive role as the season wore on. He made almost 100 appearances for Osasuna and was scouted by a more than a few of Europe’s top clubs. In the end Marseille won the race for his signature and he joined the French outfit for around €7m, the figure rising if he played in the Champions league.

He was only at the club a few months when he suffered a serious injury that ruled him out for six months in 2010. He ruptured the anterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee and while doctors believed that he would be physically be, the mental scars of such an injury for a player so young raised concerns. He returned to the Marseille starting XI and had a successful time in France and once again he was scouted. While wanting to remain loyal to the French club he also knew that they had huge debts and so whilst he was content to stay in France when the club informed him of Chelsea’s offer and the fact that they would like to accept it, he did so for the well-being of the club.

He joined the London outfit in the summer of 2012 but had to wait until November to make his debut. It wasn’t until Rafa Benitez took the helm at The Blues that he really showed his worth. He impressed at right back but it looked as if he could be let go when Jose Mourinho returned as he was seen as a Benitez player. But Azpilicueta wasn’t going to go without a fight and he knuckled down and showed the former Real Madrid Coach that he was worthy of a starting berth. His ability with the ball, his timing for both passing and tackling and his determination were seen by all. The Portuguese Coach was won over by his dedication and even remarked that with a team of Azpilicuetas, one could win any competition. This is something that Vicente Del Bosque has taken note of as he tries to find his perfect defence.

While at Chelsea he has dislodged Ashley Cole, Spain’s problem is the right back position. Since moving Sergio Ramos into the centre, they have struggled to find a convincing replacement. On Spanish radio talk shows on stations such as COPE and Marca, commentators believe that Del Bosque has decided that the former Osasuna man is the player to fill that void. Add in the fact that he can play on both flanks and even in midfield if necessary it is little wonder why he is so highly thought of in Spain right now and why many expect him to him to be a starter in Brazil. 

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