Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel revealed that Antonio Rudiger would be leaving the London side when his contract expires at the end of the current season. 

Though the German manager hoped to convince the defender to stay on, Rudiger chose to end his five-year relationship with the Stanford Bridge side. Chelsea’s chances of keeping Rudiger were dampened due to the United Kingdom’s sanctions on club-owner Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch, over the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Due to these restrictions in place, Chelsea players cannot sign new contracts. 

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Reportedly, the Blues extended an offer to the centre-back before the sanctions, but no deal was finalized over demands of a larger fee for signing on and for Rudiger’s agent. 

“The situation is that he wants to leave the club. He informed me of this is in a private talk”, Tuchel spoke of Rudiger after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory against West Ham United, as per Agence France-Presse.  

He continued, “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.” 

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Rudiger, who moved from Roma in 2017, quickly became a central part of the Chelsea defence under Tuchel. The 29-year-old is reportedly eager to move to Real Madrid, but Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain are also eyeing the German professional with lucrative free-agent deals lined up. 

Tuchel admitted Rudiger’s loss would be a hit for the squad. “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”, the manager said, continuing, “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.”