Romelu Lukaku can power Chelsea FC to a clean sweep, says Cesar Azpilicueta

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 (AP)
(AP)

Cesar Azpilicueta claims Chelsea can challenge for “everything” this season as they prepare to kick off the defence of their Champions League crown tonight.

The defender is convinced the arrival of Romelu Lukaku has given Thomas Tuchel’s side the power to compete on all fronts, with owner Roman Abramovich determined see them return to the summit of English football.

Azpilicueta lifted the Champions League trophy in Porto in May and believes that is just the start of the success they will achieve under Tuchel.

Ahead of tonight’s game against Zenit St. Petersburg, he said: “I see this squad with great potential, ambition. We have healthy competition and a good group of lads that train hard and go forward because we have an exciting season ahead of us and we want to fight for everything.

“It is just about winning trophies and the biggest one you can get. The Champions League is the biggest, but I always felt since I arrived here that Chelsea fights for every trophy. We go into every competition with a fully focused mind on getting as far as possible.

“Every year is more and more difficult. Coming in as champions of Europe will mean every team will want to beat us and we will have to be ready for it.”

Chelsea have made an impressive start to the season, winning the European Super Cup and sitting level on points with Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton at the top of the Premier League table.

Lukaku has been key to that, with three goals in as many games since his £97.5million move from Inter Milan.

“The club always tries to improve the team every year and of course, Romelu is a great addition to the team,” added Azpilicueta.

“His experience, his desire, his ambition to help the team, of course we feel stronger as he gives us confidence. A new addition always helps, adds quality to the team.

“Romelu is a great personality, character and a great leader. He is very vocal, ambitious, he helps everybody. With his presence, you respect him. When the defenders see him, they know he is a big lad, powerful, who can create chances any time.

 (AP)
(AP)

“We saw last Saturday how efficient he is and that’s made a massive impact already. It’s both the impact on and off the pitch, it is immense and we are very happy because he is a top-quality player.”

Azpilicueta joined Chelsea after they first won the Champions League in 2012 and was part of their miserable defence the following season when they became the first holders to be knocked out at the group stage.

The Chelsea captain is confident there will be no repeat.

“It was a very bad experience,” he said. “When I arrived it was a tough moment to be out at the group stage after being the champions. I am the only one in the squad still, but I will try to help with this experience to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“We are the champions [but] we start from zero. This is a new challenge, we have tough opponents and we have to be ready for it. We hope to get through, this is our objective, we want to fight for everything and this experience hopefully helps us to go forward.

 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

“We have to fight hard to get where we want to be. There is no room for mistakes, we have to be focused.

“The past was, of course, very special, but that won’t give any advantage to us for this season.

“We have the experience, the desire, we are hungry to go further and we have to show that.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin will be at Stamford Bridge tonight to present Tuchel and Jorginho with their trophies for coach and player of the season.

Edouard Mendy was also named best goalkeeper and N’Golo Kante best midfielder.

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