Thomas Tuchel previews Chelsea's clash with West Ham
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Chelsea have been warned that they risk spending £70million on Antonio Rudiger’s replacement after appearing to fail to convince the German to sign a new contract. Arsenal legend Paul Merson has said it “makes no sense” when clubs allow a player’s deal to expire without agreeing fresh terms.
Defender Rudiger is out of contract in June and looks likely to leave Stamford Bridge on a free transfer.
A pre-contract agreement can be agreed with a foreign club from the start of January. That would allow him to depart Stamford Bridge for nothing next summer.
Rudiger has been incredibly important since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in January.
He has become the figurehead of the German’s back three and helped Chelsea win the Champions league last term.
The former Roma centre-back’s seemingly imminent departure will leave Tuchel looking for a replacement.
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Merson believes owner Roman Abramovich may have to fork out as much as £70m to find a “world-class” defender after failing to convince Rudiger to stay.
“Chelsea are going to miss Antonio Rudiger when he goes because it will take £60-70m to replace him,” Merson wrote in his Daily Star column.
“Rudiger is definitely leaving. If he wanted to sign a new contract he would have done it by now. There’s no chance he stays now.
“But it’s not Thomas Tuchel’s fault. I think he made his mind up to go when Frank Lampard had him out of the team.
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“And even though he’s been phenomenal since Tuchel brought him back in, and they won the Champions League, Rudiger hasn’t forgotten.
“Teams will be queuing round the block now to sign him, and someone will pay him a lorryload of money to join them.
“He’s been one of Chelsea’s two best players all season for me and he won’t be easy to replace – but Tuchel should already be thinking about who to go for.
“There just aren’t many world class centre backs around anymore, and the ones who are will cost a small fortune.
“That’s why I don’t understand it when clubs let a player run down their contract like this. It makes no sense at all and it does my head in.”
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Tuchel has frequently reminded Rudiger that the club’s preference is for him to sign a new deal.
“We know that [he can speak to foreign clubs in January], of course,” said Tuchel in November.
“It is pretty clear what we want but it is not like this in football when the coach or club wants something and things happen.
“You have to accept that sometimes it can arrive and you end up in situations where things are in a bit of a delay and take time but I am very, very sure that Toni feels also how respected and what an important role he plays in this club.
“I’m calm because I feel Toni is calm. I feel the situation here calm inside and from here we go.”
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