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Chelsea hopes for impressive defender ‘not over’ despite double threat

Chelsea’s efforts to keep Antonio Rudiger by giving him a new contract are “not over”, according to transfer journalist Fabrizio Romano.

Rudiger is in the final year of his deal at Stamford Bridge. After previously looking likely to leave when Frank Lampard was still in charge, he has become someone to keep under Thomas Tuchel. The German has cemented his place in his compatriot’s plans for Chelsea.

A cornerstone of the back three that the Blues operate with under Tuchel, Rudiger now faces the decision of whether to continue with the Champions League holders or make a move elsewhere next year.

Given that he will be 29 years old by the time his current contract expires, Rudiger knows this decision will be a major one. It may be his last chance to secure a move to a European giant. Alternatively, he could commit to Chelsea as they aim to reinforce their own reputation among the elite.

To date, such a decision has seemed unlikely. There have even been claims that he has already decided to leave, picking his next club in the process. However, it has now been confirmed that Chelsea still have hope.

According to Romano, talks are “ongoing” between Chelsea and Rudiger’s agents for a new contract. Salary is the key sticking point, but in terms of the technical project with Tuchel, Rudiger is “so happy”.

Romano also backed up that Bayern Munich and Real Madrid would be the two main contenders to sign him if he became a free agent.

Several officials from Bayern, though, have recently played down the idea of taking Rudiger back to his homeland. That said, they may just be being respectful to a player who is not their own.

Real, meanwhile, would like one more defensive reinforcement after losing Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in the summer, but only bringing in David Alaba as a replacement.

Chelsea will make their own proposals to Rudiger as well, having given him 158 appearances in all competitions since his 2017 transfer. He has won four trophies in that time.

The former Stuttgart and Roma defender has been ever-present so far this season. But it remains to be seen whether it will be his last in a blue jersey.

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Rudiger named as Prem’s best centre-back

Rio Ferdinand has questioned former England team-mate Lampard’s decision not to play Rudiger after claiming that the Germany star is the best centre-back in the Premier League.

He told BT Sport, when asked if Rudiger is better than both Ruben Dias and Virgil van Dijk: “At the moment yeah.

“I think Dias last season was the best overall. But since Tuchel’s come, I think he’s been the most commanding centre-back in the league. He’s been phenomenal.

“In terms of his absolute desire to win every ball, aggression. Bearing in mind he’s come from the wilderness under the previous manager Frank Lampard – he just wasn’t flavour of the month under Frank and that’s fine – the character to come back in the team and become an integral member of this team [is impressive].

“One of the main reasons for them going and winning the Champions League last season was because of him. Without him, I don’t think they’d have done it.”

Former Chelsea playmaker Joe Cole was in agreement with Ferdinand’s analysis, adding before the Blues lost 1-0 to Juventus: “Sometimes he does things that are really unorthodox. I think he’s outstanding. He’s got defensive instincts.

“He’s always like the last man – that last tackle. That last moment when the attacker thinks they’re finally running in on goal, he comes out of nowhere.”

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