Cape Town - Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has hailed Cesar Azpilicueta as one of the finest central defenders in the world after their Champions League thrashing of Qarabag.
The Blues ran riot at Stamford Bridge, with the Spain international joining in the scoring as they started their Champions League campaign with a 6-0 win.
"Last season Azpi was one of the most important players for us," Conte said. "For a coach to have him is a dream.
"In this position as a central defender he is one of the best in the world. He is very good with and without the ball."
Looking ahead to their next game, at home to Arsenal in the Premier League, Conte said he would be cautious with Eden Hazard, who made his return from an ankle injury last weekend against Leicester, and featured again against the Azerbaijani Champions.
"We must have a bit of patience with him to give him the possibility to recover very well, to be totally fit," Conte added. "I think this is the right process for him.
"Don't forget in the team there are two players, Pedro and Willian, who are playing very well. We must be pleased to see him in the team. Now we must be calm and do the best for the player and the team, otherwise we risk a bad injury and delaying the situation."