Antonio Rudiger has agreed a four-year deal to join Juventus at the end of the season, according to reports. The Chelsea defender is set to be a free agent in the summer, with a renewal seeming further and further away.
The 29-year-old has become a key player under Thomas Tuchel in the past year, despite rarely playing under previous boss Frank Lampard. Rudiger has started nearly every match in the Premier League this season, making 26 appearances in the Blues ’ backline.
The move from a back four into a back three at Chelsea has helped the Germany international settle into the side, allowing his aggression and personality to thrive with players around him that complement his style. It’s this harmony at the back that has made them the second best defence in the league, conceding just 19 goals in 28 league games this season.
However, there is a threat of the partnership at the back being broken up at the end of the season, with as many as three defenders set to leave. Along with Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are also free agents and both have been linked with a move to Barcelona.
Speaking about the contract situation back in January, Tuchel revealed that the situation with Rudiger hadn’t changed at all: “Nothing has changed. The points of view have not changed. Once something changes, you will be the first to know.”
It puts Tuchel in a precarious situation heading into the next transfer window which is not helped by the fact that under the current licence Chelsea operate under, due to UK government sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich, they cannot renew contracts or sign anyone. It leaves Thiago Silva, Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr as the only senior first-team options.
Hopes of keeping Rudiger could be dashed as well, as Gazzetta dello Sport reports that the centre-back has agreed a four-year deal with Juventus. It would be a move that would see him return to the Serie A, where he had a spell with AS Roma before moving to Stamford Bridge.
It means the Blues may be forced to look into potential replacements for next season – assuming they are allowed to – if they are to mount a title charge, with Rudiger set to be a huge loss.
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