Cesar Azpilicueta Chelsea Club World Cup 2022Getty Images

Chelsea have option to extend Azpilicueta's contract but Barcelona remain relentless in transfer pursuit of Blues captain

Chelsea have the option to extend Cesar Azpilicueta’s contract by another year, placing an obstacle in the way of Barcelona's plans to sign one of their primary transfer targets.

Barcelona have so far prioritised finding an agreement with the 32-year-old but will have to address Chelsea directly after a contract option has now become known to GOAL.

Still, it is understood that the clause has yet to be activated and that the Catalan club remain confident about their approach after offering the Blues captain a two-year contract with an option for an extra season.

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Can Chelsea keep Azpilicueta?

Thomas Tuchel would ideally like to see the Spain international stay at Stamford Bridge beyond his current deal.

However, the club are reluctant to offer better terms than a one-year rolling contract. 

It has ensured there is an understanding from all parties that Azpilicueta has earned the right to choose the best future for himself and his family after an incredibly successful time in west London.

Through lifting the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi as captain, Azpilicueta became the first Chelsea player to win a clean sweep of all available honours and, with his legendary status assured, the Blues would allow his move to Camp Nou should he push for it. 

Azpilicueta has been cautious about forcing the issue at this stage as he doesn't want talk of his future to distract from the club's aims. 

His situation may end up being similar to the one that saw Olivier Giroud join AC Milan last summer. The Blues had an option in his contract for an extra year so negotiated a nominal fee which was initially under £1 million. 

What about the other contract renewals?

Elsewhere, Chelsea are committed to renewing the contract of Antonio Rudiger and are willing to make him the highest-paid defender in the club’s history.

Antonio Rudiger Chelsea 2021-22Getty Images

There remains some uncertainty about signing bonuses and agent fees but they appear willing to offer close to the salary that the Germany international requested.

Furthermore, Andreas Christensen remains locked in a deep freeze on contract talks after both parties feel alienated with each other’s actions.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona are the two most serious parties aiming to poach the Denmark international on a free transfer.

It remains to be seen whether the Stamford Bridge club are able or willing to restart talks and bury the hatchet.

Chelsea expect to lose at least one defender and have highlighted Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Leicester's Wesley Fofana and Barcelona's Ronald Araujo as potential summer replacements.

Additional reporting from Adria Soldevila. 

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