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Atletico close to signing Chelsea’s Azpilicueta

Atletico Madrid are closing in on a deal for Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta after announcing the signing of Celta Vigo’s Javi Galan, sources have told ESPN.

Versatile defender Azpilicueta has one year left on his Chelsea contract but sources have told ESPN that the Premier League side won’t block his departure as a free agent as Atletico continue to strengthen their back line after the arrival of left-back Galan.

Atletico have spent €3.5 million ($3.82m) for Galan, who has penned a deal until 2026, in addition to permitting full-back Manu Sanchez move the other way as part of the operation.

Atletico are also set to sign defenders Caglar Soyuncu, whose contract with Leicester City has expired, and Santiago Mourino from Racing Club de Montevideo.

However, any further incomings at the Madrid club this summer will depend on departures, with Joao Felix and Yannick Carrasco among the players that could leave.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone has previously tried to sign Azpilicueta, who turns 34 in August, and has now finally managed to bring him to the club.

The Spain defender was also targeted by Barcelona last summer before finally agreeing to extend his contract with Chelsea.

In 11 seasons at Stamford Bridge, he has made 508 appearances, including 32 last season, helping the club collect the Champions League in 2021.

Inter Milan also tried to sign Azpilicueta this summer but once Atletico learned a deal was possible they worked quickly to finalize the signing.

The player’s desire to return to his homeland also played a role in his decision to join Atletico, who will look to challenge Barca and Real Madrid for the title next season after finishing third this past campaign.

Steve Carr

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