César Azpilicueta has signed an extension of his Chelsea contract until 2024, ending Barcelona’s attempt to sign him.
Todd Boehly has repeatedly refused to sanction a sale and offered the Chelsea captain a new two-year deal, one more than had been on the table before his takeover. Barcelona were informed on Thursday.
Negotiations for a new deal had stalled over Chelsea offering only a one-year contract, with the defender contemplating whether the time had come to move on after a decade in which he had captained them to the Champions League title.
His existing deal had been due to expire at the end of last season but included a clause that allowed the club to extend it by a year if he played at least 45 minutes in 30 games. Azpilicueta believed he had a promise that they would not do so but the extra season was triggered and when Boehly took over about two months later he told Azpilicueta that he did not wish to lose his captain and leader.
In mid-July Thomas Tuchel said he was a “little bit” annoyed with Barcelona and admitted that Azpilicueta wanted to go. But the manager said: “I am not sure if I want to give Azpi what he wants. At some point it is about what we want.”
Conversations continued, as did the uncertainty. Barcelona did not give up. Chelsea said they wanted a fee higher than the £6.2m they had paid Marseille for him in 2012, requested guarantees that Barcelona could register Azpilicueta and asked for time to find replacements. They have also refused to include him in any other potential deals – including discussions over Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Azpilicueta was told that they could not allow him to go.
The former Arsenal forward Aubameyang is on Chelsea’s shortlist of forward targets, with Red Bull Salzburg’s highly-rated young forward Benjamin Sesko another option. Discussions have been held with Aubameyang’s representatives but no bid has been made.
Chelsea have also stepped up their pursuit of Wesley Fofana by making a £60m offer for the defender, which has been rejected by Leicester. The club are expected to make a further push for Fofana, who is understood to want the move – but Leicester’s stance is that he is not for sale.
Chelsea’s move to sign Marc Cucurella from Brighton for over £60m is nearing completion after the Spaniard finalised his medical. The London side will pay £55m up front with £7m in add-ons, with defender Levi Colwill set to join Brighton on loan next season.
Carney Chukwuemeka has completed his £20m move from Aston Villa, signing a six-year contract on Thursday morning. The 18-year-old midfielder underwent his medical on Wednesday, after the clubs had agreed the fee on Tuesday. A host of other clubs wanted Chukwuemeka after he made clear to Villa he would not renew his deal – it was scheduled to expire next June.
Most of the elite in England and Germany made inquiries, with Barcelona and Milan leading the race until the middle of last week. But with Boehly driving negotiations, Chelsea moved quickly to make the deal happen. Chukwuemeka, who made 14 Premier League appearances for Villa – two in the starting team – is best known for his technical and creative qualities.