Chelsea’s star-studded side are one win away from the inevitable Premier League title success that they have threatened to complete from the first day of the campaign.
Jose Mourinho is blessed with superstar players all over the pitch, with six of his best in the PFA Team of the Year this season.
The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa grab the headlines on a regular basis, while John Terry’s talismanic figure leads the team from the heart of its stringent rearguard.
However, another regular first-team player that has been consistently solid for the Blues and perhaps does not get the credit he deserves is Cesar Azpilicueta.
The Spain international is one of countless players that have been purchased by the West Londoners since Roman Abramovich took over at the club, with his acquisition not setting heartbeats racing.
He arrived in England as a virtual unknown from Marseille, but over time his versatility and performances have been a welcome bonus for Chelsea.
In the early days of his time at Stamford Bridge the full-back suffered from debilitating injuries, while he faced the imposing challenge of usurping Branislav Ivanovic from the right-back slot.
Although given the chance to play in his natural position on occasion, it was not until Ashley Cole was sidelined that Azpilicueta came into his own.
Preferred on the left flank ahead of Ryan Bertrand, the Osasuna youth product overcame any potential challenges of fulfilling a new position with little problems – so much so that Cole could not regain his place in the starting XI once he became available again.
Despite being naturally right-footed, Azpilicueta has been comfortable on the opposing flank and is one of the Premier League’s most diligent and ardent defenders.
From an attacking outlet, the full-back is always available to receive a pass, is comfortable on the ball, gets forward at will and links up well with Hazard down Chelsea’s left.
Azpilicueta has been the club’s first-choice in the role ever for a number of seasons, resulting in Chelsea feeling confident that they could let Cole’s contract expire and allow him to leave the club.
Bertrand, for so long considered as the veteran’s likely replacement, also got frustrated by the lack of first-team football and has since had to leave West London to guarantee action.
The Spaniard has received national recognition as a result of his solid showings at club level, with Vicente del Bosque rewarding the defender with consistent call-ups to the senior Spain squad.
In Chelsea’s defining 0-0 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, Terry was heralded as the reason that the visitors inhibited their in-form opponents.
However, Azpilicueta was almost as equally impressive and has shown over time that he is an essential member of the starting XI.
Despite the presence of Filipe Luis in the squad this season after a big-money move last summer from Atletico Madrid, Azpilicueta’s place in the team is not under threat.
With the Blues looking to progress their quest for silverware next season, Azpilicueta is not the most glamorous name on the teamsheet but a dependable and important member of the side.