But the captain, who signed a new two-year deal on Thursday, said he was convinced to stay at Stamford Bridge by new owner Todd Boehly and insisted he displayed his commitment to the club as they were in limbo while Roman Abramovich was sanctioned and they were waiting for a takeover.
Azpilicueta admitted his performance levels dropped in the final two months of last season, which he attributed to his heavy workload and the added exhaustion of the extra running from playing wing-back when Reece James was injured.
However, he feels he did not let the club down with his attitude and by keeping quiet in public about his desire to move on.
Barcelona have signed Andreas Christensen from Chelsea and are closing in on a deal for Marcos Alonso and Azpilicueta also discussed a move to the Nou Camp. “The conversations were there,” he said. “All surrounding the club. After the Club World Cup where I became the only player to ever win every trophy, [I felt] it was the time to go back [to Spain]. But then everything happened with this club. I wanted to stay committed to the club. I never did anything against my club. We had private conversations where I said everything.”
Azpilicueta’s situation was complicated by the fact that he had triggered a one-year extension to his previous deal with the number of appearances he had made but, with Chelsea in limbo after Roman Abramovich was sanctioned, it could not be finalised.
He added: “It's true that it is a very rare situation. I was out of contract until March. I played the games but the club was still under sanctions so everybody can talk for you and your name.
“My actions spoke for themselves. I stayed committed to the club, I played the games and that's even though I didn't know what was going to happen. The new owners arrived and we had very honest conversations. I decided that it was right to stay at home. It has been a crazy last few months. It felt right to carry on my journey here in a new project and I am really looking forward to the new season.”
Azpilicueta is the only player in Chelsea history to win each of the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, Europa League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup while at Stamford Bridge, but that prompted him to think of moving on.
“It was a turning point at the Club World Cup,” he explained. “I tried so hard to win this trophy; my last trophy remaining so I could be the only player who has won every trophy for the club. At that moment, I felt differently. It was like, ‘Wow I have won everything for this club so maybe a new chapter arrives.’
“It's true that at the last break, my performances were not as good as before. I paid a big price for playing from December to February. I think I played the most minutes and I did it playing wing-back. The last two months I wasn’t as good physically as before.”