Thomas Tuchel has admitted that club captain Cesar Azpilicueta is considering leaving the club in the summer.
Azpilicueta has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge for some time and Barcelona are long-term admirers. The Spaniard's contract had been set to expire this summer, before an automatic one-year extension was triggered partway through the season.
However, that does not guarantee that Azpilicueta will be remaining at the club. As reported by 90min in March, Barcelona remain interested in the defender and Chelsea would not stand in his way if he did wish to leave.
Speaking before his side's Premier League meeting with Leicester City on Thursday, Tuchel confirmed that Azpilicueta's future was indeed far from certain.
"And I listen to my captain. He has been at this club for more than a decade, so he has this right [to leave on his own terms]. This is my opinion," he said.
"He is everything Chelsea is about, and I am so, so happy he is the captain because he is humble, hard-working, a nice guy and a polite guy. I am happy that in football, it's possible a guy like this can win all the trophies. That sets the example. It sets the tone. It sets the atmosphere at a very high level.
"This is absolutely clear, but there are more layers and levels we have to consider. It is also whether he can give all that, whether he is fully committed. If he cannot get rid of this feeling [about wanting a new challenge], we have to talk about it openly, seriously, and respectfully because he deserves it.
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"We [need to] find out if he can give everything that makes him special. I think, with all the respect, he can only be special if he is committed 100% and does not have another little voice in his head, not one concern in his head, that he should have done something differently.
"He is only the guy he is when he is fully committed. That is his foundation. So this is what we have to find out. That does not mean we find it out tomorrow or today, we still have time because we are also in the privileged position where we have a contract. We have to see."
Tuchel later added: "We had a lot of these talks because, very genuinely, it felt like he won everything after the Club World Cup.
"So, given his personal situation, I can understand these thoughts that maybe a cycle is at its end. Then there's a change of ownership, and he played only under this owner in this structure, so it may have increased his second thoughts about his situation.
"But then his extension kicked in, and at the same time, he loves the club, he loves the challenge, he loves to be here, and he is our captain. So we are still in dialogue, and at some point, we are also selfish. We are not responsible to solve any other club's problems or to fulfil any other club's wishes.
"Given the fact we lose already key defenders, it's not the ideal scenario to think about losing Azpi, even if I can understand his personal point of view. If you are a legend, which he is, you deserve maybe also from me and the club a second look at it, is there may be an exception from the rule. We are still in this process."
Chelsea are already bracing themselves for two key defensive departures at the end of the season, with Andreas Christensen set to join Barcelona and Antonio Rudiger poised to link up with Real Madrid.
90min understands that Chelsea remain confident of signing Sevilla's Jules Kounde in the upcoming transfer window though, a player they just missed out on last summer.
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