According to Football London, Paul Merson believes that Antonio Rudiger has already made his mind up on his Chelsea future ahead of January’s transfer window.
The German centre-back has been pivotal to the Blues’ recent success under Thomas Tuchel but is no closer to agreeing a deal to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge beyond June 2022.
It means that he can leave on a Bosman transfer in the coming months as Chelsea risk losing him for nothing despite him being one of the best central defenders in world football at present.
There’s still some optimism amongst some supporters that he’ll be wearing blue next season, but as Merson has suggested n his column for the Daily Star, him staying is looking more and more unlikely.
“Chelsea are going to miss Antonio Rudiger when he goes because it will take £60-70m to replace him,” he said.
“Rudiger is definitely leaving. If he wanted to sign a new contract he would have done it by now. There’s no chance he stays now.”
Merson continued by suggesting that him wanting to leave Chelsea actually has little to do with Tuchel, but is something he’s planned for the last year or so.
“But it’s not Thomas Tuchel’s fault. I think he made his mind up to go when Frank Lampard had him out of the team.
“And even though he’s been phenomenal since Tuchel brought him back in, and they won the Champions League, Rudiger hasn’t forgotten.
“Teams will be queuing round the block now to sign him, and someone will pay him a lorryload of money to join them.
“He’s been one of Chelsea’s two best players all season for me and he won’t be easy to replace – but Tuchel should already be thinking about who to go for.
“There just aren’t many world class centre backs around any more, and the ones who are will cost a small fortune.
“That’s why I don’t understand it when clubs let a player run down their contract like this. It makes no sense at all and it does my head in.”
Rudiger certainly has a difficult decision to make in January – he’ll just be hoping he makes the right one.