Barcelona have identified Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta as a possible transfer target should the Spaniard become available in the summer, according to SPORT.
The highly experienced defender was the subject of transfer interest from Xavi Hernandez's team last summer. However, the Spaniard ended up signing a two-year contract extension with the Blues.
Despite his commitment to stay at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta could still be available in the summer, judging by Chelsea's recent activity in the January transfer window.
The Blues have reportedly agreed a deal for Lyon right-back Malo Gusto, who is expected to be a backup for Reece James next season. This could affect Azpilicueta's game time, should he remain at the club for the 2023-24 campaign.
Azpilicueta has made a total of 24 appearances for the Blues across competitions this season. He has also registered 987 minutes in the Premier League.
Xavi heaps praise on Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele
The Spanish tactician was full of admiration for French winger Ousmane Dembele following his most recent outing for the Catalan giants. The Frenchman was on the scoresheet for Barcelona in their 1-0 win against Real Sociedad in the Spanish Copa del Rey on 25 January.
Speaking after the tough encounter, Xavi was quick to admit that his winger Dembele has improved this season. He said (via Barca Universal)
"Since we’ve been here, Dembele has improved a lot. I see the full-backs who play against him and they suffer. I believe in him a lot. I always think he can generate a lot for us. Today, he played an extraordinary game."
"Dembele has been criticized and booed. We have changed him and he receives a standing ovation. I’m very happy for him!"
Xavi went on to claim that the Barcelona star is one of the best wingers in his position and added:
“Dembele, in his position, is one of the best players in the world. I think what has changed in Dembele is that he now believes he is one of the best wingers in the world, something I already knew, now, he is starting to believe it. He feels our confidence. I talk to him quite a lot. I’m glad because he’s a great guy.”