Chelsea needed just four games to seal their place in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League, which they did with a crucial win against Rennes. The Blues were on the brink of dropping two points against the Ligue 1 side as they put in a spirited display and equalised in the 85th minute, cancelling out Callum Hudson-Odoi's first-half opener. However, Chelsea's quality and strength in depth ultimately prevailed after Olivier Giroud came off the bench to kill the game with an injury-time winner.
Chelsea are on a roll in the Premier League as well, and have an all-important clash against league leaders Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. Ahead of this high-profile fixture against Jose Mourinho's men, here, we take a look at the latest Chelsea news.
Cesar Azpilicueta delivers rallying cry ahead of London derby
Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta says his side are determined to show Tottenham Hotspur that they are the best side in London. The Blues could potentially go above Spurs on the table should they manage to register a win over the league leaders.
The two clubs have had several fiery affairs in the past, with one particular game — 'The Battle of the Bridge' — remembered as one of the most intense Premier League fixtures in the recent past, which took place at Stamford Bridge in 2016.
Azpilicueta sent out a rallying cry to his side ahead of the upcoming game and spoke about how it has a 'special' feel to it, similar to their infamous encounter in 2016. He said;
"It's one of those kinds of games when you usually feel a special atmosphere at the Bridge and that game [in 2016], we were having a terrible season, we were losing 2-0 at half-time."
The Spanish defender spoke about the circumstances of what he considered to be a special game back then, given that it had terrible repercussions on Spurs' title ambitions. He continued,
"But, in the second half, the electricity around the stadium... I think something clicked that day that even though we were not playing for anything, just to not let Tottenham [Hotspur] win the league. It was not only the game, it was the title race as well that they were involved in. Every year is different, and we had a very good record against them until two or three seasons ago when we lost, but, hopefully, we can keep beating them at the Bridge."
Azpilicueta reiterated that Chelsea desire to be the best team in London, explaining,
"We always try to be the top team in London, and we want to be at the top because that means we are the No.1. That's what we fight for. We are in good form and, hopefully, we can improve on last season and now reach higher levels."
Chelsea in attempting to lure David Alaba to Stamford Bridge
Bayern Munich star David Alaba's future has been one of the major talking points of the transfer market this year. The Austrian international is into the final year of his contract with the Bavarians and is no closer to renewing his deal than he was at the start of the campaign, and could potentially leave the club on a free transfer come summer.
While Alaba is reported to be holding out for a move to either one of Barcelona or Real Madrid, neither of Spain's giants appear to be financially capable of sealing his services. Chelsea, who are also on the lookout for further defensive reinforcements, could capitalise on the situation and bring the 28-year-old to Stamford Bridge.
Reputed Bundesliga journalist Christian Falk told BILD [via SportWitness] on the matter;
"The clubs who have made contact so far are not Real Madrid and Barcelona, they, at the moment, cannot simply afford him. Paris Saint-Germain are the first option I’ve heard, but he doesn’t really want the move."
"What will be interesting now is Chelsea. His agent Pini Zahavi lives in London and has close contacts with the club. I heard he is trying to transfer him there and I think for him if he isn’t going to Spain, that’s a very nice city to move to."
Liverpool have also been tipped as a potential destination for Alaba.
Chelsea 'in the equation' for Leo Messi
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague made a stunning claim about Leo Messi's future, saying that Chelsea will be 'in the equation' for the Barcelona captain should he become available. The 33-year-old's future has been a subject of speculation over the last year or so, and he came close to leaving the club this summer, but the potential move to Manchester City fell through.
However, he is into the final year of his contract and could potentially leave the club on a free come summer. Speaking on Messi, Balague revealed that Chelsea are interested in signing him, saying;
"Chelsea, definitely in the equation if [Lionel] Messi becomes available."
The mercurial Argentine publicly admitted that he wanted to leave the club, and there has, so far, been no update about a contract renewal for the forward. City were primed to be Messi's next destination as he could reunite with former manager Pep Guardiola and his compatriot Sergio Aguero. Balague believes that City will be in the fray for Messi once again, saying;
"Would [Manchester] City try again? Yes, they would. Obviously, there’s no transfer fee attached to it now."
Messi and Barcelona have gotten off to an inauspicious start to the 2020/21 LaLiga Santander campaign, sitting 13th on the league table with 11 points from eight games.
Published 27 Nov 2020, 20:18 IST