Atletico Madrid has signed Spain defender Cesar Azpilicueta on a one-year deal as a free agent, the LaLiga side said on Thursday following his departure from Chelsea after 11 seasons.
Azpilicueta has joined Atletico after the Premier League club agreed to let him go with 12 months left on his contract.
The 33-year-old returns to Spain after 13 years, where he last spent three seasons at Osasuna from 2007-2010.
Azpilicueta had been a mainstay at Chelsea since he arrived from Ligue 1 side Olympique de Marseille in 2012, making more than 500 appearances in all competitions, scoring 17 goals, providing 56 assists and winning every major title with the club.
“Cesar leaves an everlasting mark at Chelsea, as a warrior, as a champion, and as loyal Chelsea legend,” Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly and co-controlling owner Behdad Eghbali said in a joint statement.
“He has set the standards at the club for more than a decade and demonstrated to everyone what is required day in, day out to achieve success.”
The Champions League, Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup winner was linked with a move to Serie A side Inter Milan before deciding on Atletico as his next destination.
He joins the growing list of players to leave Stamford Bridge this close season after the exits of Kalidou Koulibaly, N’Golo Kante and Edouard Mendy, who all joined Saudi Pro League clubs.
Kai Havertz, Mateo Kovacic and academy product Mason Mount have signed for rivals Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United, respectively.
Chelsea has taken on new players, with forwards Christopher Nkunku and Nicolas Jackson joining the club, as it seeks to revive its fortunes under former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino after finishing 12th — its worst finish to a season since 1994.
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