Antonio Conte has hailed Cesar Azpilicueta as one of the best defenders in the world after Chelsea equalled their biggest ever win in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Chelsea marked their return to Champions League action after a 12-month absence with a thumping 6-0 win over Azerbaijani outfit Qarabag FK at Stamford Bridge in which Azpilicueta scored his first ever European goal.
The Spain international has arguably been one of the Premier League’s most consistent performers since the start of last season and Conte believes Azpilicueta is one of the best defenders in the world.
“Last season Azpi was one of the most important players for us,” The Daily Mail quote Conte as saying. “In this position as a central defender he is one of the best in the world. He is very good with and without the ball.
“He’s a fantastic guy, he’s always positive, and during the training sessions he works in a fantastic way. For a coach to have him is a dream.”
Azpilicueta has spent the last five years at Chelsea after joining from Marseille in 2012 and has primarily been used as a full-back in that period.
However, the 28-year-old, who was linked with a move to Barcelona this summer, has been converted into a centre-back under Conte and flourished beyond expectations.
In fact, Azpilicueta has not missed a single minute of league action since the start of last season, which only three other players can claim to have managed in that period.