Chelsea are set to lose Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid for nothing, after the German rejected terms on a £140,000-a-week contract.
That's according to reports circulating that claim that the defender is Spain-bound, following nearly five years in the Premier League in which Rudiger has won the FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League titles.
The German has become a key member of countryman Thomas Tuchel's team over the past year. Rudiger has excelled at becoming an aggressive defender in a back three and is now well-considered as one of the best centre-backs in England.
Chelsea have been slow to renew contracts for several key stars, however. Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Thiago Silva are all set to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer.
There are strong rumours that the Blues are looking to sign Jules Kounde, while Fenerbache defender Attila Szalai, a highly-rated Hungarian international who reportedly idolises Thiago Silva, has been tipped to join.
Still, Chelsea have been expected to re-sign Rudiger.
Both Real Madrid and Barcelona have prioritised free signings amidst recent financial uncertainty – so the rumour makes sense from Los Blancos' perspective.
The Spanish giants last season signed David Alaba for free from Bayern Munich but lost both Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos from their backline, after Manchester United and PSG came in respectively. Rudiger would certainly strengthen the defence and has experience in big Champions League fixtures.
Liverpool have also been linked to the 28-year-old. Jurgen Klopp is said to be a fan of Rudiger's, with the Reds apparently keen on adding an older head to a backline that is yet to fully integrate summer signing Ibrahima Konate.
Rudiger has a market value of around £30m on Transfermarkt.
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