Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has agreed a deal with Real Madrid to join the Spanish champions on a free transfer this summer.
Rudiger will officially join Real on July 1 on a four-year deal estimated at €400,000 (£342,000) a week.
The German international’s contract at Chelsea expires at the end of the season and Blues boss Thomas Tuchel revealed last month that the defender has decided to reject a new contract at Stamford Bridge.
A number of clubs across Europe – including in the Premier League – were interested in Rudiger. However, Real were the first club to officially express their interest in signing him this summer, and the 29-year-old would be flattered and impressed by Real’s pursuit.
Rudiger’s representatives held talks with Barcelona earlier this season when he was also linked with Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.
John Terry, the former Chelsea captain, expressed his disappointment at Rudiger’s impending exit last month. To respond to Sky Sports’ instagram post regarding the Germany international, Terry wrote: “How did we let this man go?”
Staying at Chelsea was a possibility for Rudiger, but penalties imposed on club owner Roman Abramovich have made talks about extending his contract impossible.
The European champions – who are expected to be taken over by Todd Boehly’s consortium – have been unable to negotiate transfers or contract extensions since March.
Tuchel has revealed Rudiger’s decision to leave Chelsea following his side’s win over West Ham last month. Talk to sky sportshe said: “The situation is that he wants to leave the club. He told me about it in a private conversation.
“We gave it our all – me and the club – but we couldn’t fight anymore because of the sanctions. Without the sanctions we could at least keep fighting, but our hands are tied. We don’t take it personally. her decision.
“He’s a key figure and he will remain so until the end of the season. But it’s disappointing. He will be greatly missed.
“He gives courage in the dressing room – the kind everyone is afraid of, but the kind to play 50-55 games at an exceptional level. He’s one of the best defenders of the last year and a half for me. We then we have to find another way.”
Pressed on whether Chelsea will be able to replace Rudiger, Tuchel said: “At the moment, no, because of the sanctions. Hopefully the sanctions will be a thing of the past.
“We had a connection from day one and he deserves all my support. I’m just happy I had the chance to train him in the team and the club did too. We had offers, big offers and the club tried everything but we can’t fight anymore, we have the sanctions, we can’t continue, that’s how it is.
“It would be ideal [for sanctions to be lifted before the transfer window] but even if you want to, you can’t pull the grass so that it grows faster. We have to face reality. Sanctions are still in place and the situation is not clear for next season. We’re trying to focus on the last few weeks.”
Rudiger exit leaves Chelsea facing defensive rebuild
Joe Stream of Sky Sports:
It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of Antonio Rudiger’s loss to Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea this summer. Since the head coach’s arrival in January 2021, the defender has been a vital part of the squad that have won the Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup, as shown by the fact that he played every minute in those three finals.
The graph below shows Rudiger’s impact on the pitch for Chelsea, but he was also a crucial influence off the pitch, particularly during the turmoil caused by the club’s ownership situation. Tuchel admitted late last month that his fellow German would leave a void in the dressing room as big as the one he will leave in the heart of the Chelsea defence, saying: “He gives everyone confidence in the dressing room. “He’s a unique character and plays at an exceptional level. He sometimes focuses on himself, he likes the responsibility.”
Adding to Tuchel concerns, Rudiger centre-back Andreas Christensen is also set to leave Stamford Bridge when his contract ends this summer, while speculation continues over captain Cesar Azpilicueta’s return to Spain.
Assuming Todd Boehly’s takeover of Chelsea goes as planned, Tuchel’s priority this summer will have to be rebuilding his defence, with Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr set to be the only first-team centre-backs on the Blues list.
Rudiger deciding to stay in west London would have provided valuable continuity during a time of uncertainty at the club, but with the 29-year-old gone Tuchel will know his side need a number of important improvements. back – and quickly.
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