Chelsea full-back Cesar Azpilicueta has signed a new five-year contract with the Stamford Bridge outfit which will keep the Spaniard at the club until 2019.
The Blues reported the news on Tuesday via their official Twitter feed:
The 25-year-old—who can play on either defensive flank—arrived at Stamford Bridge from Marseille in August 2012 for a reported fee of £6.5 million.
He truly established himself as a first-team regular last season—replacing Ashley Cole in an unfamiliar left-back position—as Chelsea finished third in the Premier League with Azpilicueta making 29 appearances.
Chelsea conceded only 27 goals in the English top flight last season, and Azpilicueta has started all three games in the new season despite the summer signing of left-back Filipe Luis from Atletico Madrid.
Squawka provides some impressive stats for the Spain international from last season's campaign:
Cesar Azpilicueta won more tackles (74) & more interceptions (49) in the Premier League last season than any other Chelsea player. Dave.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 2, 2014
With Azpilicueta's new contract now confirmed, there looks set to be terrific competition for places in Chelsea's back line—a scenario with which boss Jose Mourinho will likely be very happy.
Many had expected Luis to take the left-back spot with Azpilicueta taking up his more natural right-sided spot ahead of Branislav Ivanovic.
However, the Serb has started the 2014-15 season in electric form, as The Guardian's Daniel Taylor alludes to, and has bagged two goals in three games:
Branislav Ivanovic is a machine for Chelsea - right-back, right-winger and occasional centre-forward all in one.— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) August 30, 2014
But the Blues' most recent encounter—a 6-3 victory over Everton on Saturday—revealed some defensive weaknesses which Mourinho was unhappy with, despite the win, per BBC Sport.
"We cannot make so many defensive mistakes," he said. "Today we showed we are improving in other areas but not keeping the balance in defence."
Despite the Goodison Park display, Chelsea still have a formidable and versatile defensive unit and Azpilicueta signing his new contract will likely be greeted with great positivity by players and fans alike.
He adds a great deal to the Chelsea squad, and with the Blues always looking to contend on both domestic and European fronts he will play a huge role over the next few years.