Chelsea could bring back three club icons to follow in Man Utd and Liverpool’s lead | Football | Sport

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Tom Huddlestone made surprise headlines this week when he popped up with the winning goal during Manchester United’s under-21 clash with rivals Manchester City. The former Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur man has been on United’s books ever since 2022 when he was appointed as a player-coach for the under-21s.

While not a regular in the starting XI, Huddlestone has featured frequently enough for United’s under-21s and has been able to elongate his two-decade-long playing career by doing so. But somewhat surprisingly, the 37-year-old isn’t the only Premier League veteran doing this.

A short hop down the M62 motorway, former Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing has cut a similar deal with the Merseyside giant. Along with his coaching duties in the academy, Spearing is also registered as an over-aged player for Liverpool’s under-23s and has featured in professional matches – albeit EFL Trophy clashes against League One and League Two opposition.

But what if Chelsea were to follow suit? Which former Stamford Bridge regulars could return to the club as coaches and end up one day pulling on the famous blue and white strip once again?

Cesar Azpilicueta

Kicking things off with a fans’ favourite, who only left the Bridge after an 11-year stint last summer. Cesar Azpilicueta boasts the most appearances for the club by a non-Englishman and seeing him one day add to that tally wouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Upon his departure from Stamford Bridge in the summer, Azpilicueta joined La Liga side Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish defender only signed a one-year contract with the Madrid-based outfit. Even if he does put pen to paper on an extension at the Metropolitano Stadium, it’s unlikely the 34-year-old will stick around for much longer, meaning a return to Chelsea as a player-coach could become a viable option.

Asmir Begovic

Given he made his debut in English football back in 2006, it’s remarkable that Asmir Begovic is still turning up week after week for Queens Park Rangers in the Championship. Best known for spells with Stoke City and Bournemouth, it’s often forgotten that Begovic did spend two years at Chelsea during the mid-2010s.

His signing cost the west Londoners £8 million, with Marco van Ginkel going the opposite way to Stoke on a season-long loan. Picking up a Premier League title in 2016/17, the one-time backup Blues goalkeeper is still playing regularly aged 36 years old, but having found a home in England, maybe a return to Chelsea as a player-coach isn’t out of the question one day?

Nemanja Matic

Finally, Nemanja Matic might’ve soured relations with Chelsea fans following his move from the Blues to United in 2017, but the now 35-year-old is still knocking around top-level European football. What’s more, ex–Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho may have offered a clue into what life after football could look like in the years to come for the Serbian midfielder.

Speaking back in 2017, the then-United manager dubbed Matic a ‘genius’ because of the way he thinks about the game. Maybe one day Matic’s football intelligence will be repurposed as a coach back with the club where he won two Premier League titles.

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