Frank Lampard has confirmed Cesar Azpilicueta will remain the Chelsea captain this season as he battles Reece James for a starting spot.
Azpilicueta joined Chelsea in 2012 from Marseille and has since gone on to become a regular for the club, becoming captain in 2019.
The Spaniard, however, now faces competition for his place in the starting-XI following the emergence of academy graduate James.
The 20-year-old started at right-back and scored against Brighton during Chelsea’s opening match of the season and will hope to keep his place against Liverpool on Sunday.
It leaves Lampard in the potentially difficult position where his captain may not be starting every week, but he has no plans to take the armband off Azpilicueta.
“Absolutely Azpi is club captain this season,” said Lampard.
“He has done a great job of it. Since I have been in the role he has been a huge help to me in how he has handled himself on and off the pitch, how much he feels for this club, how much he communicates within the squad.
“I think we can all see the quality of Reece James and the competition I have in that right-back position, but Azpi’s professionalism means that he is going to be as important for us this year as he always is.”
Asked if the captaincy role would change for Azpilicueta if he wasn’t playing every week, Lampard replied: “I am not sure.
“I can’t ask players that are competitive as Azpi to be content with missing one game. Every player here should be really keen to play every game. I know Azpi is like that. I know him very well from playing with him.
“I don’t expect: ‘Thanks I am not playing this game, this is great, everything is fine and rosy.’
“No, players need to want to play. But when you have someone like Azpi, with the qualities he has as captain, I know that he can give everything.
“Whether he plays, or there might be times when he doesn’t, he will have the same positive impact on the group off the pitch. That is all I can ask for. It is a pleasure to have him here for that.”