Bought from Marseille in 2012 for what could be considered peanuts (£7m), César Azpilicueta quickly became one of the key players at Stamford Bridge, rarely budging from the team over the past four years.
His ability to play both at right-back and left-back has made him a valuable member of any squad, including that of Spain, with whom he currently is for these 2016 Euros in France.
Also known to occasionally play at centre-back when called upon, the 26-year-old defender is a very surprising target for Athletic Bilbao this summer, and has reportedly been for the past few years.
With a lot of money potentially coming their way with the likely sale of Aymeric Laporte to Manchester City, the Basque outfit will need to strengthen their backline and replace the Frenchman, which is where Azpilicueta comes in.
Speaking to Radio Nacional, relayed by Marca, ahead of Spain’s opening game of the Euros, the Chelsea man addressed Bilbao’s interest, but also confirmed his loyalty for his current club.
He said: “It’s always flattering when a club wants you, and I must say I’ve heard great things about Ernesto Valverde (Bilbao’s manager), but I’m focused on the national team and on Chelsea, where I have four years of contract left and where I’m made to feel very important.”
Considering the player has a new manager coming in, one for who his versatility could make him a key member of Conte’s plans, it’s understandable the Spaniard might be reluctant to move.
Also, Athletic BIlbao might be seen as a step down for him, and at 26-years-old, now isn’t exactly the time to do that.