Real Madrid believe they are favourites to sign Antonio Rudiger after their latest round of talks, 90min understands.
The German defender, who turned 29 in March, is one of the most in-demand free agents due to be on the market this summer.
90min revealed last year that it was increasingly likely that Rudiger would be leaving Stamford Bridge because of issues with his contract and with Chelsea’s hierarchy, and manager Thomas Tuchel – who has said ever since he took charge that he wanted Rudiger to sign a new long-term deal – confirmed in the aftermath of Sunday’s 1-0 win over West Ham that he will be going.
Rudiger and his representatives had been willing to delay their decision due to Chelsea’s ongoing ownership talks, but 90min understands that once it emerged that current director Marina Granovskaia would likely be staying in west London, it was accepted that a deal would not be done.
Granovskaia has never seen eye-to-eye with Rudiger or his agents and certainly never entertained offering the sort of deal he would like. Indeed, 90min has learned that it was some ‘disrespectful offers’ made by her that set off the chain of events leading to his imminent departure.
Rudiger has been in talks with a handful of clubs since the turn of the year, including Barcelona, PSG and Juventus, but sources have confirmed that Real Madrid believe they have positioned themselves at the head of the queue.
A deal is now on the table and as a free agent Rudiger is able to sign a pre-contract agreement with Real or indeed any other club – barring those in the Premier League, who have to wait until the end of the season.
Listen now to 90min’s brand new podcast, Talking Transfers, with Scott Saunders & Graeme Bailey. Toby Cudworth joins the show this week to discuss contract situations at West Ham, while there are updates on Man City’s pursuit of Erling Haaland and Chelsea’s plans for Romelu Lukaku.
That includes Manchester United, who remain keen on signing Rudiger, but a lack of Champions League football at Old Trafford could have an impact despite his apparent willingness to play for incoming manager Erik ten Hag.
Barcelona, who have already landed Andres Christensen on a pre-contract agreement and hope to do a deal for Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta, are not yet out of the running for Rudiger, while PSG and Juventus have offered terms – the former likely to offer the best financial package and the latter seen as an ‘intriguing’ option.
But it’s Real who have left talks over the last week believing they are close to sealing a deal, and sources have indicated there’s a willingness to conclude the move in the near future.