Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta: Player Of The Year candidate? 0

In an alternative world, one in which we valued offensive and defensive players equally, the Player Of The Year awards wouldn’t be continually dominated by goal-scorers and flair players.

This year, Luis Suarez is very likely to walk away with a stack of individual honours and rightly so, but spare a thought for Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta.

The Spaniard is an example of someone who, because of the position he plays, is very rarely singled-out for praise. Additionally, because he’s part of a Jose Mourinho side that is very much seen as a ‘unit’, it’s similarly difficult for him to stand-out amongst the many eye-catching individuals within the Premier League.

Even without the context of his own club, Azpilicueta struggles for recognition - who wouldn’t amongst the array of attacking talent on offer at Stamford Bridge. But think about what he’s accomplished since arriving in English football: he’s adapted to a new position, he’s played it to a level which has made him a guaranteed starter in the country’s first-placed side, and in so doing he’s dislodged one of the finest left-backs of the last twenty years.

Ashley Cole may be getting older, but he’s still an extremely fine player and someone who would have been a more than secure option for Jose Mourinho this season. The situation at Chelsea isn’t really about Cole’s decline, instead it relates to Azpilicueta’s freakish progression. He’s now arguably more secure and influential in his adopted position than he ever seemed to be in his natural right-back role. That’s very rare.

‘Player of the Year’ may be a little strong, but there isn’t a more improved player in England at the moment.

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