Chelsea full-back Cesar Azpilicueta has hailed the summer arrival of Filipe Luis, claiming the competition between the pair for the starting left-back role has improved his game.
Luis, 29, joined Chelsea this summer from Atletico Madrid for around £16 million, having proved an integral part of the side which won the 2013-14 La Liga title and progressed to the Champions League final.
Arriving at Stamford Bridge with a stellar reputation as a result, most expected the Brazilian to walk straight into the line-up, but Azpilicueta’s excellent form has instead seen him restricted to just two Premier League starts so far this season.
Having previously kept former Blues star and now-Roma defender Ashley Cole out of the starting XI, the Spain international even believes he is now more comfortable on the left side than on the right, where he first began his career.
"In the big teams, there is always competition and the competition helps us to improve. I like the competition and fight for my place every day," he told Marca.
"I am actually playing even more on the left, and I feel better every day there.
"The truth is that in either of the two positions I can give my best."
Azpilicueta’s impressive displays this season also saw Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville label him the Premier League’s best defender last month, and the former Marseille man admits he was flattered at the praise.
"Those words flatter me,” he said.
"But also they make me eager to improve. I have always worked to be one of the best and it is clear that the more you achieve the more pressure you have.
"But I still can improve a lot. Whenever I see a game, I tried to look other players who play in my position because they teach me things to improve myself. I am lucky to train with great defenders and they are also an example for me."
Having put pen to paper on a new deal until 2019 in September, Azpilicueta looks set for even greater things in north London moving forward and, at 25, there’s reason to believe that fans are still to see his best.