Barcelona have confirmed discussions between themselves and the agent of Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, although the star could end up at La Liga rivals Real Madrid.
Rudiger has made 47 appearances for Chelsea this season, registering five goals and four assists. His last Premier League outing came in the 6-0 thrashing of Southampton on April 9.
The centre-back has missed Chelsea’s last two league matches due to a groin injury. The Blues have had mixed results without him. They lost 4-2 to Arsenal before beating West Ham 1-0 on Sunday.
After the win against David Moyes’ side, Thomas Tuchel revealed Rudiger would leave Stamford Bridge this summer. His contract expires on June 30, meaning he can move as a free agent.
“Toni, the media is on it. The situation is that he wants to leave the club. He informed me of this is in a private talk,” Tuchel said.
“We gave everything – me and the club – but we could not fight anymore because of the actions. Without the sanctions we would at least be able to carry on fighting, but our hands are tied. We don’t take it personally. It is his decision.”
Antonio Rudiger set to leave big gap at Chelsea
Tuchel insisted the German will remain a ‘key figure’ at Chelsea until the end of the campaign. However, the manager ‘will miss him a lot’ and ‘a solution needs to be found’.
Barcelona director Mateu Alemany says the Spanish club have been in contact with Rudiger’s agent. However, he claims these discussions were not specifically about a deal to sign the centre-back.
“We had a meeting with his agent but we didn’t talk about that situation,” Alemany said (via the Daily Mail).
“Agents represent more than one player and that could lead to confusion. Also, it’s not our custom to talk about contracted players so we can’t help.
“Now is not the time to think about [next season]. We work in all positions and, at the end of the whole season, we will talk to the coach and make decisions based on the market.”
Rudiger’s most likely next destination is Real Madrid. Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano claims he has come to a ‘verbal agreement’ with Los Blancos.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side are ‘closing in’ on his signature and the contract will apparently be a long-term one.