According to multiple reports today, including the Telegraph and The Athletic, Antonio Rüdiger has now made up his mind, and has decided to leave Chelsea at the end of the season. While he hasn’t decided where he will go, he’s not staying here.
Must admit, it’s a bit of a villainous turn given the timing and the way this story had been turning out since the winter, but Toni has evidently and understandably chosen the stability and safety of a big payday somewhere else. After all, we have no idea what the new owners might or might not have done with his contract, nor are we even assured of being able to offer a new contract in the first place — depending on how the governmental restrictions play out in the next few weeks and months. The Athletic’s report concludes that the uncertainty is “a major factor why he isn’t going to wait any longer”.
Chelsea looked close to agreeing a deal with the 29-year-old at the start of the calendar year, but apparently our last and seemingly quite generous offer, reportedly £230k, a club-record weekly salary for a defender, with a reported £10m signing-on fee and matching agents fees, was still not quite good enough to immediately agree. And then we couldn’t agree even if he had wanted to.
Real Madrid look to be the favorites to land his signature, though Juventus and PSG remain in the picture as well. Rüdiger will leave Chelsea with over 200 appearances, every trophy except the Premier League trophy, and more fun memories than we can count.
Chelsea will be expected to make a play on Jules Koundé as a replacement. I’m sure others will enter the picture as well, and hopefully on-loan youngster Levi Colwill will get his shot as well. We had been gearing up for a defensive revamp for the last couple years, and now the new owners will get to show their commitment by funding one.