13 years after he left Osasuna to join Marseille, Cesar Azpilicueta returned to Spanish football this summer, joining Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid after Chelsea allowed the 34-year-old to leave on a free transfer.
It was a shrewd signing for Atletico, with Azpilicueta providing experience and versatility, both of which are sure to be needed throughout this season.
However, Azpilicueta may not have ended up at Atletico. Inter Milan were heavily linked with signing him, but Diario AS have revealed that Athletic Club also looked into the possibility of signing Azpilicueta.
In the same interview in which Athletic President Jon Uriarte confirmed their efforts to sign Aymeric Laporte, he also revealed that they tried to sign another centre-back, although no name was mentioned. However, it is believed that this referred to Azpilicueta.
Azpilicueta was in preliminary talks with Athletic during this summer, but he only wanted to join a team playing in the Champions League, hence why negotiations did not go any further.
Having lost Inigo Martinez to Barcelona early in the summer, Azpilicueta would have been a very solid replacement for Athletic Club. However, it did not work out, and it is Atletico Madrid that are benefitting from having the veteran defender in their squad.