Azpilicueta a ‘gift’ to inherit, says Tuchel

Head coach Thomas Tuchel says Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta is a “gift” he has inherited and key to the 11-game unbeaten run.

The Blues eased to a 2-0 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge on Monday night to strengthen their place in the top four of the Premier League.

Chelsea’s longest-serving player made his 411th appearance for the club in the win and has started all nine of the league games since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in January.

The 31-year-old has helped the Blues keep seven clean sheets along the way, with another shut-out coming in the Champions League win over Atletico Madrid.

“We have a true captain and he absolutely deserves to have this many games,” Tuchel said.

“He is key in what you see because I truly believe that every team takes the mentality of their top guys, of their captains.

“I have the maximum respect for him; it is unbelievable what he does.

“What a pleasure and a gift to have a captain like this.

“I believe from my heart the importance of captains in my teams, a guy so humble so full of quality, so ready to give everything for the team with a mentality of a water carrier to help everybody on the pitch and outside the pitch.”

Azpilicueta joined from Marseille in August 2012 and has played under eight different managers.

“He is so humble so straightforward, with a smile every day in training,” Tuchel added. “Every day he is ready; it is a gift for every manager. He deserves the praise. He is excellent.”

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