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Antonio Rudiger says he ‘owes’ Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel amid exit rumours

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Antonio Rudiger’s contract at Chelsea is set to expire this summer and the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have been linked with a free transfer for the German defender

Antonio Rudiger has remained coy over his Chelsea future but stated he owes the Blues and Thomas Tuchel to maintain his focus and dedication.

The German international has been in impressive form since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge on the left side of a back three, and barring injury has been ever-present for Chelsea in the Premier League this season.

However, alongside Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen, the 27-year-old’s current Blues deal is set to expire in the summer.

From January, Rudiger will be able to speak to other clubs and a agree a pre-contract for the following season.

The 28-year-old is understood to be content at Chelsea but the club have yet to come close to agreeing a new contract. The length of a new deal is thought to be a sticking point, as well as reported negotiations over salary.

But Rudiger’s priority remains his performances for Chelsea.

He told Welt Am Sonntag: “No. I am now concentrating on what is imminent. I owe that to the club, the coach and the team. I’ve always said that Chelsea is my number one contact.

“I’m only focused on Chelsea at the moment. We’ll see what happens.”

That the situation has risen at all is perhaps telling, of Rudiger’s turnaround in the last 12 months. Under Frank Lampard, the former Stuttgart star had fallen out of favour and the prospect of a new deal perhaps did not seem forthcoming.

Rudiger added: “The situation back then was completely new to me. I didn’t know this feeling before. But I also have to admit that I suffered two serious injuries in a row at the time and it was therefore not easy for me to perform.

“Then Coronavirus came, and it was precisely in this phase that my son was due to be born. In retrospect, this phase of extremes also gave me a kick to fight my way out of the sporting hole and show what I can do and what kind of character I have.”

The defender thrived when Tuchel was appointed in February and has made the role on the left side of defence his own.

“That’s right. He bet on me – and I paid back,” said Rudiger.

“Before he came to us, I heard that he was supposedly difficult to deal with. But I don’t experience that. On the contrary. He is clear, factual and direct, just as you like it as a footballer – generally as a person.

“I find it helpful when someone tells me directly what they like about me and what I can still work on. I can do a lot more with that than when someone comes and dribbles around what they want to say.”

The duo have proved a successful combination for Chelsea, in what has been a very good period during Tuchel’s short tenure. While there has been stagnation over the contract, it’s clear Rudiger’s coach wants to keep his charge.

Tuchel believes the German’s performances are the perfect way to earn a new deal.

Speaking in October, he said: “There’s no news from my side, and I think that Toni feels very, very good at Chelsea, he feels very respected by his team-mates and he feels the importance that he has in the team and in the squad.

“That’s well deserved because he delivers, he feels the love from the supporters when he plays. He’s in the strongest league in Europe, in a big club, so not many reasons to change that.

“But in the end it’s between him and the club, and that’s in good hands. I am calm and relaxed, whatever has to happen will happen

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