Thomas Tuchel has confirmed Antonio Rudiger has decided to leave Chelsea.

Speaking to Sky Sports after Chelsea’s 1-0 win over West Ham, Blues boss Tuchel said on reports that Rudiger had chosen to move elsewhere: “Toni, the media is on it. The situation is that he wants to leave the club. He informed me of this in a private talk.

“We gave everything – me and the club – but we could not fight anymore because of the actions. Without the sanctions we would at least be able to carry on fighting, but our hands are tied. We don’t take it personally. It is his decision.

“He is a key figure and will stay that way until the end of the season. But it is disappointing. We will miss him a lot. He gives courage in the dressing room. The kind everyone is afraid of, but the kind to play 50-55 games at an outstanding level. He is a top defender in the last one-and-a-half years for me. We then need to find another solution.”

In the press conference that followed, Tuchel confirmed the decision was not a factor in his absence at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

“He’s injured. No concerns from him,” he added. “He has no doubts and he made no doubts that he will play until the end of the season. This is what he did from day one and this is what he’ll do for the last minute.”

And pressed on whether the Blues will be able to replace Rudiger after his departure, Tuchel said: “In the moment not, because of the sanctions. Hopefully the sanctions will be the past.

“Even then it will be incredible difficult because Toni is what he is. He’s a big personality. Big leader. He takes fear away and gives confidence and between 50, 60 matches over 90 minutes with an incredible level of consistency.”

More to follow…

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