Thomas Tuchel ready to block Azpilicueta to Barcelona as Chelsea boss admits ‘annoyance’

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Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel is ready to block Cesar Azpilicueta’s dream transfer to Barcelona and has admitted his annoyance over the La Liga giants’ pursuit. The Blues could be set to play hardball over their captain’s future, with Tuchel unwilling to let him leave for less than his worth.

Barcelona hope to recruit Azpilicueta this summer after already luring Andreas Christensen away from Stamford Bridge on a free transfer. And Spanish reports have suggested the proposed fee for the Chelsea skipper, who turns 33 this year, is worth no more than £5million.

The Blaugrana have tabled a two-year contract offer for Azpilicueta, who wants to return to his homeland and a move to the Nou Camp. However, when asked by the media whether their pursuit of the Spain international has annoyed him, Tuchel admitted: “Maybe a little bit.”

He explained that he wasn’t ready to let Azpilicueta seal his desired move, suggesting Barcelona’s offer is lower than his value due to his illustrious status for club and country. Tuchel has used Chelsea’s £34m deal for Kalidou Koulibaly, of the same age range and stature as Azpilicueta, as a guideline for the club’s asking price.

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He said: “It’s a tough question because I am not sure if I want to give Azpi what he wants. At some point, it is about what we want. I just made the comparison about how much we fought for [Kalidou] Koulibaly, who is a national team player and roughly the same age.

“He is a hugely important player for Napoli, but we have a Spanish international who is the captain at Chelsea. I see him maybe at the same level, but Barcelona don’t see him on that level. So I am not sure if I want to give him what he wants as he is a huge player.

“We don’t think so much about other clubs. The focus is on us and what we need. I said that to him, and I say it to you that I understand on a personal and a career level. But I am not only in this role to give him what he wants.

“I am a manager for Chelsea who wants to do what’s best for Chelsea. He doesn’t like it, but he understands. It is tough for him because the other club is permanently on him. On September 1, when things calm down, then he can play on his highest level.”

Tuchel’s strict stance will come as a blow to Barcelona immediately after Chelsea beat them to the signing of Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde. The Frenchman is set to join the Blues in a £55million deal and will sign a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge.

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