Thomas Tuchel hails ‘super important’ Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta

Thomas Tuchel has hailed Cesar Azpilicueta’s enduring impact as Chelsea captain after the Spain defender completed the full trophy set.

Azpilicueta became the first Chelsea player to claim glory in every possible global club tournament when steering the Blues to the Club World Cup crown in Abu Dhabi.

The 32-year-old is out of contract this summer and Barcelona are determined to lure him away from Stamford Bridge.

But Tuchel has praised his skipper for continuing to improve, perhaps stressing the point in light of Neil Warnock’s curious criticism.

Warnock claimed Azpilicueta has been “fortunate” to enjoy such success at Chelsea, which led former Blues midfielder Cesc Fabregas to rubbish the assertion on social media.

Tuchel hailed Azpilicueta for continually protecting his Chelsea team-mates though, even with the former Marseille man’s long-term situation still unresolved.

“He’s always important, and the plans, most of them are not longer than 10 or 14 days max in football, and for me as a manager,” said Tuchel, of Azpilicueta.

“But he’s super important, he was super important from day one. We had a good connection from the first day, which is always important and you always look for as a coach.

“He gets better with every game he plays, he’s an example, a leader by doing and leading by example. Which is always super, super nice to have.

“Now he collects so many trophies and has had an incredible career at one club, which is outstanding.”

Warnock told TalkSport earlier this week that Azpilicueta had been lucky to taste so much success in his career.

“I think Azpilicueta has been a very fortunate lad to be at a club like Chelsea,” said Warnock.

“I don’t think he is a great defender. Sometimes in football you need a bit of luck and I think he’s had a bit of luck at the right time and in the right place.”

Former Chelsea star Fabregas posted three emojis in response to Warnock’s comments to show his strong disagreement.

And while not quizzed directly on Warnock’s stance, Tuchel had no hesitation in heaping praise on his highly-decorated Chelsea captain.

“He embodies everything that Chelsea stands for; being relentless, being humble but being a warrior at the same time,” said Tuchel.

“And I don’t think there are people who don’t wish for the very best for him and don’t like that he has all these trophies; he deserves it.

“If you see how he protected also Kai for the penalty in the Club World Cup final, it was brilliant, this is what he does on a daily basis.

“He protects the team, he’s the first one to step up.”

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