Spanish duo keep tabs on Chelsea star who could lose his place
Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao are ready to pounce for Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta should he lose his place in Frank Lampard’s side.
The Spaniard has been a revelation during his seven years at Stamford Bridge, but there are rumours that he will no longer be first choice when Reece James is fit, and it could be the beginning of the end for him.
Lampard has already shown that he is ready to give youth a chance this season, with the likes of Mason Mount becoming regulars in the Chelsea side.
His hand has been forced to a certain extent due to the transfer ban, which prevented him from bringing in new players this summer, but he is still looking to get youngsters into the side, and James is another top talent.
The young full-back was outstanding while on loan at Wigan Athletic last season, and his performances caught the eye of rival clubs, who were hoping to strike a deal during the transfer window this summer.
Lampard put a block on it and ruled out a move away as he has every faith that James will be able to make the step up this season.
The Blues boss allowed Davide Zappacosta to leave on loan for Roma as he was happy to have James in his squad instead, and now he could be in line to replace Azpilicueta.
The 19-year-old just has to prove his fitness before he is knocking on the first-team door and it will be interesting to see the team sheet after the international break when Chelsea take on Wolves.
There are some suggestions that James will be on it in place of Azpilicueta, and if that is the case, the latter will not be happy.
If Azpilicueta does head for the exit door, he will not be short of offers and reports are rife that both Bilbao and Sociedad will offer him the chance to return to his home land, where he could potentially see out his career in La Liga.
He is sure to be tempted by that chance and will no doubt see how things go with Chelsea between now and January before making a decision on his future when the window re-opens.
Lampard will be keen to keep both players as he needs two quality players in each position, but he has also shown he is not afraid to let some senior established players move on and the same could apply here.
Michael Holland is a reporter with over two decades of journalism experience. A Bolton fan, Michael often writes football articles, as well as having a strong knowledge of golf, cricket and Australian sports.