Antonio Rudiger may yet retrace his steps when choosing his next club after Chelsea, according to reports.
Rudiger has been one of the standout performers in the entire Premier League so far this season. The defender has hugely stepped up under Thomas Tuchel for Chelsea.
However, they may not get to enjoy his talents much longer. He is out of contract at the end of the season and reportedly wants a big salary before renewing.
Keeping his options open, he may instead seek a new challenge in Europe. Given his form, he will have his pick of the continent’s elite.
Real Madrid are reportedly confident of repeating the strategy that saw them sign David Alaba as a free agent from Bayern Munich in the summer. After losing Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, they still need to replenish the ranks in that department.
Rudiger is a target in that regard, although he also has admirers at Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich – despite their denials – and in Italy.
One club that could look to sign him, in what would be something of a surprise move, is the very side from which Chelsea bought him in the first place.
According to Gazzetta Dello Sport, Roma are considering luring Rudiger back to the Italian capital.
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The Germany international previously played for them across a two-season spell between 2015 and 2017. He was a regular in both years, but a range of factors pushed him away.
There have been a few whispers in Italy about him returning to the club, which have now been backed up by Gazzetta.
Discussions have reportedly been held about them acquiring Rudiger to appease Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho wanted to take Rudiger to Tottenham when he was in charge there. He remains fond of the 28-year-old, so could try to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together.
The Special One wants an extra centre-back at Roma due to ex-Manchester United man Chris Smalling encountering a number of injury issues.
Rudiger would be a popular choice back in Rome, but whether they can convince him to join is another matter.
Although he had largely fond memories of his time with the club, they are unlikely to be able to offer him Champions League football next season. Given his current club are the reigning holders of that trophy, it would be a surprising step at this stage of his career.
But Mourinho has the ability to tempt players – having also attracted Tammy Abraham from Chelsea to Roma – so may retain a glimmer of hope of working with him.
Rudiger relaxed about future
Speaking over the weekend, Rudiger gave his own stance on his situation.
He told The Guardian: “The most important thing is that I feel happy here. I think if people look at it, they can see I’m happy.
“About the contract situation, I talk with the club. This is for nobody’s ears.
“It was how I said it would be after the Euros – there would be talks. There was a talk between [Chelsea director] Marina Granovskaia and my agent.
“We have the situation where we are at now and I have nothing to do with all the speculation. This is not in my mind.”
Rudiger has made a total of 163 appearances for Chelsea since joining the club. Prior to that, he represented Roma on 72 occasions and, even earlier in his career, Stuttgart in 80 games.
Chelsea will hope he has many more games ahead of him in a blue shirt. However, as things stand, he will be free to negotiate with foreign clubs in the New Year.