Antonio Rudiger has decided to leave Chelsea and will make a decision on who he will join as a free agent next week.
Rudiger, whose current deal runs out in the summer, has now made his mind up and opted to leave Stamford Bridge. The news will come as a huge blow to Chelsea and their coach, Thomas Tuchel. Rudiger, 29, has been one of Chelsea’s best players for the past 18 months in particular and helped the club to win the Champions League last season.
But Chelsea’s inability to agree a new deal with the defender before owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned last month has cost them. Chelsea’s first contract offer was made last August but the proposal was seen as something of an insult with Rudiger already one of the lowest-paid senior players on around £90,000-a-week.
It did not help matters that Romelu Lukaku was given a base wage of about £340,000-a-week when he joined from Inter Milan for a club record £97.5 million last summer. It took four months for negotiations to properly resume again and the two parties did get a lot closer to an agreement.
Rudiger has been able to talk with foreign clubs about joining them as a free agent in the summer since January. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint Germain, Juventus, and Bayern Munich have all made contact in some form. Manchester United are also keen.
But there was optimism at Chelsea and in Rudiger’s camp that one more offer would secure his signature because the player’s preference all along has been to stay at Stamford Bridge and continue to play for Tuchel.
It is understood that Rudiger did not need the biggest financial sum to stay at Chelsea, and was willing to accept a smaller amount than those offered to him by other clubs, due to his strong relationship with Tuchel and the club’s fanbase.
But since Abramovich was sanctioned, Chelsea have not been able to discuss contracts with anybody. There is also no guarantee over what the new owners — a preferred bidder is expected to be named next week — can afford and when they will be ready to discuss terms, if they’re willing to do so at all.