Cesar Apzilicueta remains a top transfer target for Barcelona, but GOAL has learned that Chelsea’s asking price for their long-serving club captain is proving to be a sticking point.
Blaugrana boss Xavi is eager to add more experience to his defensive unit and, fresh from snapping up former Blues centre-half Andreas Christensen as a free agent, has his sights set on a 32-year-old at Stamford Bridge.
A move to Camp Nou appeared to be on the cards at one stage, but no agreement has been reached and there are now more obstacles to clear.
Will Barcelona sign Cesar Azpilicueta?
The Spain international, who can operate at right-back or centre-half, has been registering on Barca’s radar for several months.
He was another of those heading towards free agency in west London this summer, but an automatic 12-month extension clause in his contract was triggered in March once 35 appearances in the 2021-22 campaign were reached.
Chelsea’s new owner, Todd Boehly, has been in Catalunya of late to hold talks with Joan Laporta and Mateu Alemany – the president and director of football at Camp Nou – with Azpilicueta’s name cropping up in those discussions.
Barca want to sign a Premier League and Champions League-winning star on a two-year contract, but a fee is now being demanded in any deal.
Chelsea are reluctant to let their skipper walk away for nothing, with GOAL learning that they are looking to recoup the €8 million (£7m/$8m) it cost them to sign Azpilicueta from Marseille in 2012.
Barcelona consider that price to be excessive, but the Blues are wary of parting with a player that has taken in 476 appearances for them, is very rarely injured and can always be relied upon to step up as a leader when required.
Can Barcelona get a deal for Azpilicueta done?
The Liga giants are refusing to give up on Azpilicueta and will be trying to talk Chelsea down in their valuation.
Barca acknowledge that any formal offer needs to be presented quickly, giving those in west London time in which to draft in reinforcements after already bidding farewell to Christensen and Real Madrid-bound Antonio Rudiger.
Azpilicueta is understood to be keen on making a move and boasts a strong relationship with Xavi.
Promises have been made regarding a regular role in plans for the 2022-23 campaign, with Barca aware of what needs to be done in order to get an agreement over the line.
Getting Azpilicueta is one of three priority boxes for the Blaugrana to tick over the coming weeks, with the signing of Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich and the renewal of Ousmane Dembele’s expired contract considered to be the others.