Chelsea must activate secret contract clause to solve Thomas Tuchel's Antonio Rudiger headache


Cesar Azpilicueta performed admirably in Chelsea's 2-1 win over Lille as he rose like a phoenix from the ashes to guide the Blues into the Champions League quarter-final.

The 32-year- old sees his contract at Stamford Bridge expire at the end of the season and has reportedly courted interest from Barcelona, however, despite his uncertain future at the club, Azpilicueta riposted the distractions.

The Spain international was central - once again - to Thomas Tuchel's masterplan, operating at right wing-back in the absence of Reece James. His impressive display raised questions among fans regarding where his future should lay.

The Blues captain's latest performance encapsulated a series of important showings which have defied the narrative that Azpilicueta will suffer a similar fate to Branislav Ivanovic, whose Chelsea career quickly dwindled with age.

However, the Spaniard has aged like fine wine, strengthening his hand should he look to table a case to extend his stay in west London. Barcelona remains as confident as ever in bringing Azpilicueta to the Camp Nou in the summer despite having learned of Chelsea's special clause with the defender, according to Goal.

But, Tuchel's side is also interested in extending the veteran's stay and could activate their secret clause. Goal revealed that Azpilicueta has an appearance clause in his contract with Chelsea which, once hit, will trigger a one-year extension; the report adds that the defender is 'close to hitting' said clause and, with James still out, it appears as if it could be very much achievable.

The clause seemingly puts Chelsea in a powerful position between now and the end of the season. The Blues have previously enjoyed success with a similar incident involving Olivier Giroud.

 Last summer, the France international had a clause activated on an extension until 2022, but a few weeks later, Giroud joined AC Milan in a deal worth up to £1.6m.

The 35-year-old talisman unlocked Chelsea's small insurance, which secured the west Londoners a potential fee and security regarding the future of the club's number nine role.

 If Azpilicueta triggers a similar extension, he could either provide Tuchel with an option if Antonio Rudiger departs in the summer, a mentorship programme for the German centre-back's replacement or a transfer fee - it's a win-win situation.

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