Antonio Rüdiger is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, and at the moment, there’s nothing we can really do about it. Chelsea’s current operating licence from the UK government does not allow for any new contracts or contract extensions — and it doesn’t look like those restrictions will be lifting anytime before the new ownership is in place, which may not be until the end of the season at the earliest.
All that leaves Rüdiger in an awkward place, where the safest career choice regardless of how he feels about (Tuchel’s) Chelsea would be to agree to a new long-term deal somewhere else. While we were reportedly close to getting him to sign before the sanctions came into effect, with the change in ownership and the associated financial situation, it’s also not guaranteed that we would offer him the same package once we’re able to (though maybe we’d offer him more, he said naively).
Exclusive #Rüdiger: Secret negotiations in Barcelona! On Wednesday night Alemany, Cruyff & ARs agent Senesie met in the hotel „The Barcelona Edition“. The appointment went three hours. Barca wants Rüdiger as a free agent! @SkySports @Sky_Marc #CFC pic.twitter.com/6VNAhvSm62— Florian Plettenberg (@Plettigoal) March 31, 2022
Other teams are unlikely to take pity on us and will look to jump in. Toni had been on the radar of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and PSG, and while all three of those tracks cooled, they could easily be resurrected. And now there are Barcelona as well, who were caught on camera meeting with Rüdiger’s representatives this week.
While Barca apparently cannot match the wages on offer from other teams (what other teams?), Rüdiger “liked” the proposal, according to Gerard Romero. That said, the agents “insisted” to the Telegraph that “no decision has been made on his future”.
With Barcelona all but official in getting Andreas Christensen and still looking likely to get César Azpilicueta, they could make it a hat-trick of free defenders from Chelsea this summer, and that’s somewhat annoying — especially as our hands are tied. (And we’re unable to even sign replacements for them at the moment.)