Liverpool have reportedly made a firm approach to win the race for Chelsea contract rebel Antonio Rudiger – and hope to beat a high-profile European suitor to his signature.
Manager Thomas Tuchel and director Marina Granovskaia have work to do to keep the club’s backline intact. Four defenders have contracts expiring in June – Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Christensen is a target for La Liga sides Barcelona and Atletico. Recent reports suggest a ‘breakthrough’ in negotiations could see him remain at Stamford Bridge, although a new deal is yet to materialise.
Silva, 37, is being eyed by former club Fluminense in Brazil. They want the veteran defender to finish his career in his homeland. However, the Brazilian is still having a huge impact at the top level, as illustrated by some inspired displays this season.
However, he may yet reportedly give Chelsea another season’s services as he continues to defy his advancing years.
The biggest issue for Chelsea, however, probably surrounds Rudiger.
The Germany player – in the form of his life under Tuchel – is attracting interest from Europe’s biggest teams. Indeed, the likes of Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain are keen on the player.
Real also keen on Antonio Rudiger
However, a report earlier this week stated Rudiger has agreed to join Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid. He is preparing to pen a three-year deal at the Santiago Bernabeu, in a move which will likely take place this winter.
Madrid will only have to pay Chelsea a nominal transfer fee under the Bosman ruling. As Rudiger’s value sits at £31.5m, according to transfermarkt, Chelsea look set to lose out on some serious money.
However, reports in Spain now claim Rudiger is actually likely to stay in the Premier League with Liverpool.
As per El Nacional, Klopp has been keen on the player for some time and is preparing a move.
January exit for Antonio Rudiger with Real Madrid willing to pay
Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid nears as Chelsea set to get transfer fee for out of contract defender
They state a huge contract is being prepared to lure the former Roma man to Anfield. As per the report, Liverpool are willing to hand Rudiger a significant increase on his current £100,000 a week deal.
Indeed, they are reportedly willing to offer him a 40% rise to £140,000 a week.
Bizarrely, the article also states Klopp has promised Rudiger a regular place in Liverpool’s starting XI.
Despite paying £36m for Ibrahima Konate in the summer, and having Joel Matip and Joe Gomez at his disposal, they suggest Rudiger will become Liverpool’s regular partner for Virgil van Dijk were he to make the move.
Rudiger in, Nat Phillips out
Space in the Liverpool squad could be freed up by the departure of Nathaniel Phillips.
As per Thursday’s Paper Talk, West Ham are planning a £15m approach – giving Klopp a serious dilemma.
Indeed, after giving the defender a rare start on Tuesday against AC Milan, Klopp labelled Phillips “outstanding”.
In fact, Klopp rates the player highly and ideally would like to keep him.
But he knows that by doing so, he will hold his career back.
Furthermore, Phillips admits he wants to be playing as much as possible following his outing in Milan.
“Obviously I want to be playing as much as possible, but the competition is really difficult. So I’ve got to be ready when I’m called upon,” he told liverpoolfc.com.
“I felt like I stood myself in good stead (against Milan). It was tough towards the end.
“It was tough against (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, someone who has been at the top throughout most of his career, so it was a really tough battle and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
As such, Klopp will now think long and hard before accepting West Ham’s offer for the defender.