Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel says “nobody likes” Antonio Rudiger’s decision to leave the club this summer as the defender closes in on a free transfer to Real Madrid.
Rudiger, whose Chelsea deal expires at the end of the season, is close to agreeing a four-year deal with Real and Tuchel revealed at the weekend he had decided to reject a new contract and join a new club.
A number of clubs across Europe – including in the Premier League – remain interested in the 29-year-old but, while talks with Real are ongoing, he is set to move to the Bernabeu.
Rudiger’s representatives held talks with Barcelona last month, while he has also been linked with Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.
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Asked about the Germany international’s decision to leave, Tuchel said: “I don’t think anybody likes it. He gives everybody confidence in the dressing room. He is a unique character and plays on an outstanding level. He sometimes takes the focus towards him, he loves responsibility.
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“Nobody likes this decision but we have to accept it. Like it or not there will be life at Chelsea after Toni. It is also the most important thing for us that it ends like it started, on the highest level.”
Rudiger has been a key part of Chelsea’s success in recent seasons having won five trophies with the club, including last year’s Champions League.
Watch Rudiger’s stunning strike for Chelsea against Brentford from all the best angles
On coping without him, Tuchel added: “It is my job. No matter how the situation is solved and how active we can be in the transfer market, at the end we will dig in and we will try to squeeze out everything from the squad that we have.
“I will fall in love with the squad I have then and push it to the limit. It was a pleasure every single day with Toni, I am concerned that we have talked too much about it in the past because there are still big things to achieve.
“From pre-season next season, life will go on whether we are happy about it or not and I will be fully involved with all my heart and all my knowledge.”
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Jorginho admits: ‘We’ll miss Rudiger’
Chelsea midfielder Jorginho has apologised for his penalty miss against West Ham, and says the club will miss defender Rudiger if he leaves in the summer
Jorginho has told Sky Sports News that Chelsea will miss Rudiger ahead of his expected departure.
“He’s been here a long time so if he leaves then we’re going to miss him,” he said.
“He’s a big personality and he’s helped us a lot. We’ve had amazing times here; he’s a good friend of mine and of course, if he leaves everyone at the club will miss him, not just me.”
Asked what he will miss the most about Rudiger, the 30-year-old laughed: “His craziness. He makes me laugh a lot; all of his jokes and laughs we’ve had together – that’s the nice part.”
Chelsea’s fixture schedule:
April 28 – Man United (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 1 – Everton (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 7 – Wolves (h) Premier League
May 11 – Leeds (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 14 – Liverpool (Wembley) FA Cup final
May 19 – Leicester (h) Premier League
May 22 – Watford (h) Premier League
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