Premier League • England

Tuchel agrees with next move as new link emerges for Chelsea defender

Thomas Tuchel, Christian Pulisic, Antonio Rudiger

Thomas Tuchel has praised the ‘exceptional’ Antonio Rudiger and appeared to give his blessing to news of the Chelsea defender’s links to Bayern Munich.

Rudiger, 28, has been at Stamford Bridge since joining from Roma in 2017. He penned a five-year deal with the Blues which is set to expire at the end of the campaign. The rangy centre-half has played every minute of eight of Chelsea’s nine top-flight games in 2021-2022.

And he continues to be a key part of the side despite a refusal to sign a new deal in west London. Reports earlier this month suggested Tuchel has urged the club’s money men to sort out a new deal for the Germany international.

But his status remains unchanged and the former Stuttgart stopper will be free to negotiate with foreign clubs in the new year. He could then walk away for nothing in the summer window.

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And there are plenty of clubs more than happy to have him on their books. Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Tottenham have all been linked with the centre-half.

And Bayern have now joined those said to be interested in his signature. Tuchel knows just how important Rudiger is to his cause.

“Toni has established himself exceptionally since the first day we arrived,” he told Bild. “He is an absolute leader and plays at an incredibly high level.”

And, quizzed about the star joining the Bavarians next summer, he replied: “Then he’ll get it right if he does that.”

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Rudiger ‘in talks’ with Prem duo

Rudiger has made 161 appearances for the Blues in all competitions, scoring eight goals. He made his name in Stuttgart before a couple of seasons in Rome.

But it is while he has been with Chelsea that the Berlin-born star has taken his game to another level. He has now earned 48 Germany caps and played 11 times for his national side this year.

Unsurprisingly, he is in demand and it was reported on Saturday that Spurs and Manchester City have held talks over a deal.

Transfer expert Gianluca Di Marzio said: “Rudiger is in talks with Juventus, Man City, Tottenham, and even PSG, who still need a defender.

Thomas Tuchel Chelsea

“It’s difficult to see him signing a new contract. He will join one of the four teams mentioned.”

READ MORE: Club chief sends Man Utd, Chelsea new warning over top summer target