Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has given the Blues' fans the dreaded news that one of their most important first-team members has decided to leave the club, with reports suggesting he will join Spanish giants Real Madrid.
The German tactician has enjoyed a successful spell at Stamford Bridge since his arrival in January 2021, with his compatriot Antonio Rudiger having become an integral figure in the team over the past year.
Rudiger, 29, was hugely influential in Chelsea's 2020/21 UEFA Champions League-winning campaign, and has also claimed the FA Cup, the UEFA Europa League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup titles while on the Blues' books.
With his contract expiring at the end of this season, and Chelsea's expected takeover still not confirmed, Rudiger has informed Tuchel of his decision to depart Stamford Bridge when his deal runs out in June.
"The situation is that he wants to leave the club. He informed me of this in a private talk," he said, according to Sky Sports.
"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."
Rudiger, who has made 196 appearances for Chelsea since his arrival from Roma in 2017, is believed to have reached a verbal agreement with Los Blancos ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, according to football transfer expert Fabrizio Romano.
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