• By Paul Lagan

Chelsea's Azpilicueta on striker Morata: It can be difficult to come to England and make an inst


Cesar Azpilicueta. Photo: Paul Lagan

Cesar Azpilicueta is relieved that Chelsea’s poor league season has at least ended with silverware in the shape of an FA Cup victory and has sympathy for striker Alvaro Morata, who ended the campaign on the bench and out of Spain's World Cup squad.

Finishing fifth in the Premier League will have serious consequences for head coach Antonio Conte as the Blues look to a new season which will involve the Europa League rather than the expected Champions League.

The Spain defender, now preparing for the World Cup next month, said: “Obviously it was important to finish this season with a trophy. We lost the final last year.This year we changed the result and we have happy faces.

“This season when the results are not there, people look for something else. Obviously we had ups and now downs. Not finishing in the Champions League slot was a big step backwards for all of us. But we deserved to reach the FA Cup Final and to win it. It’s been a long journey since January. The only way we could make the fans happy was to win the final.

“We were coming from a tough defeat in Newcastle. We know we can’t perform at that level. Maybe it was good for us to get a slap in the face the game before the final, to realise we had to step up our game, our concentration, our focus, our spirit. Winning the Final was massive for the club.”

But a club like Chelsea shouldn’t need a slap in the face? They should perform at the highest level all the time, Azpilicueta agrees.

“Of course. I agree with this. To lose 10 games in the Premier League is a massive amount and it is not the standard of Chelsea. We have let things slip twice in the last three seasons and it is a reminder we have to maintain a consistent level, to keep Chelsea fighting for trophies. Now we have a challenge ahead of us and we have to be ready for it.”

His Spain and Chelsea colleague Alvaro Morata has had a troubled season

“He has had a couple of injuries,” said Azpilicueta. “A couple of bad moments which can happen when you are in a new country and a new club. He is ready to help the team. When he didn’t play he was still trying to help the team. We expect him to do great. He has been working well in the training sessions. When he came in he scored the second goal in the semi-final. Alvaro is an important player for Chelsea. Everyone of us knows we should have done better. We scored less than last season and conceded more, that’s why we ended up in the position we did in the table.

“When you don’t get the targets that we all want, then as people we are less happy. We didn’t perform and reach what the club needed. He is a part of the team and is feeling the same as all of us. We are disappointed.

Will he be at Chelsea next season - Juventus seem keen to take the striker back.

“He has a contract with Chelsea. I’m not his agent and I don’t run the club.

“Obviously it can take some players a season to adapt. It can be difficult. It has happened to a lot of players. It can be difficult to come to England and make an instant impact. When the team doesn’t help, it even harder. I’m sure that all the signings from last summer will be ready to step up and with the help of everyone, try to get the targets.”

Azpilicueta is confident the that the club can still attract the top players despite not being able to offer them Champions League football.

“Of course big players will still want to come to Chelsea. I have no doubt that the club will get a squad that can compete to win for trophies. I am sure that will happen. If the club decides that we need to get players in, I’m sure we will get the quality we want.”

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