Antonio Rudiger has been the standout performer in the Chelsea defence over the past 18 months but the Blues will have to do without the German centre back next season with Thomas Tuchel confirming that Rudiger has decided to ply his trade elsewhere in the 2022/23 season and beyond.
“He informed me some days ago in a personal talk,” Tuchel said this weekend.
“We gave everything and now we enter a situation where we can’t fight any more because of the sanctions and now Toni will leave,” the Chelsea boss continued, with reference to the current restrictions against the club whilst they seek new ownership.
Tuchel was glowing in his appraisal of Rudiger and regrets that the club had their hands tied when it came to contract negotiations.
“He was the top defender in the last one and a half years for me. I have nothing but respect for what he did. He needs to keep going until the end then we then need to find another solution,” said Tuchel, who also faces losing Andreas Christensen on a free transfer this summer.
Reports indicate that Rudiger is about to accept a four year contract with Real Madrid but, as we’ve seen before, things can change rapidly when it comes to contract negotiations.
We take a look at the dream, realistic and wildcard options here.
Dream: Bayern Munich
A return to Germany could be on the cards with links emerging between Rudiger and Bayern Munich. The ability to contend for honours each year in his homeland would be a big draw for the centre back and, with Niklas Sule already leaving the German champions this summer, Rudiger would be assured of plenty of playing time.
The defensive set up at Bayern is quite young and Rudiger would be seen as a leader, something that would give the centre back the responsibility he craves. There are question marks over whether he has the ability to play in a back four and that would have a spotlight shone on it if the German defender does make the switch to Munich with Julian Nagelsmann preferring a flat back four.
A move ‘home’ would suit Rudiger best but Bayern have made the switch to a younger squad in recent years and they could prefer to focus on bringing Upamecano and Nianzou through the ranks further, rather than turn to a player approaching 30.
CLAIM HERE. *New members. £10 min deposit & bet on sportsbook, placed & settled at 1.5 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Win part of E/W bets. 2 non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens: accept in 7 days, valid for 7 days from crediting (ex. E/Ws & Multiples), stakes not returned. Click here for Rules & Exclusions. Bet Responsibly. BeGambleAware.org
Realistic: Real Madrid
The rumours of a contract offer from Real Madrid, and acceptance by Rudiger, have ramped up since the defender confirmed he was leaving Stamford Bridge. Some expect the deal to be signed within the next couple of days and, on the surface, the deal makes a lot of sense.
Real Madrid certainly look a little light in defence with David Alaba and Eder Militao being backed up by perennial squad player, Nacho, and the largely untested, Jesus Vallejo. Adding another top quality centre back would be a great addition to the squad by Carlo Ancelotti.
Much has been made of Rudiger’s ability in a back four, a defensive set up that Real Madrid have used in the vast majority, so could a move to the Spanish capital indicate a formation change for The Galaticos or does Ancelotti trust Rudiger to transition into a four man defence with no problems?
Rudiger could go in a different direction though and decide a move to Spain is the route he wishes to take. Barcelona could be a good fit for the centre back with Gerard Pique turning 35 this year and the other options for Xavi lacking experience at the top level.
Wages could be a big issue in any potential move to the Nou Camp, with Barcelona’s money issues being well documented but they’ve been able to be creative with their squad to this point so a move for a defender of Rudiger’s calibre isn’t impossible.
A move to either Barcelona or Madrid seems the least likely option this summer but shouldn’t be ruled out with Rudiger definitely having the quality to improve most sides around Europe.
Will he stay at Chelsea?
Rudiger has confirmed that his time at Stamford Bridge will come to an end this season and he’ll be playing his football elsewhere next season.