Pundit: The Chelsea star has become world class under Antonio Conte
Garth Crooks says he has been impressed with Cesar Azpilicueta's performances in the Chelsea defence
Garth Crooks has claimed that Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta has realised his full potential under Antonio Conte.
The Spain international has been ever-present in Conte’s three-man Chelsea defence throughout the 2016-17 Premier League season.
Azpilicueta has forged an impressive partnership alongside Gary Cahill and David Luiz to help Chelsea secure the second-best defensive record in the top flight.
The 27-year-old defender has made four assists in 36 appearances in the Premier League this term to help Chelsea win their second title in three seasons.
Azpilicueta can get his hands on the FA Cup for the first time if Chelsea manage to beat London rivals Arsenal at Wembley on Saturday 27 May.
Writing in his BBC Sport column about Azpilicueta’s world-class performances for Chelsea manager Conte this season, Spurs legend Crooks said: “What a season this player has had. I remember him starting his career at Chelsea and having to play as a left-back.
“He coped brilliantly well considering he was naturally right-footed and while he solved the club’s left-sided problem post Ashley Cole, he could not really show his true potential.
“Since the arrival of Antonio Conte, Cesar Azpilicueta has not merely shown his true potential but realised it.
“The versatile defender produced a world-class performance against West Brom at The Hawthorns and what a time to do it. He was imperious in defence and creative in attack.
“It was Azpilicueta’s cross that provided the opening for Michy Batshuayi to slide the ball home.”
Azpilicueta teed up Michy Batshuayi to score a close-range finish in the 82nd minute on Friday night to seal Chelsea’s 1-0 win against West Brom and the Premier League title.
Chelsea are seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.