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Manchester United are one of five clubs hoping to sign Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger.
The German is out of contract this summer. That means he is free to open talks with other clubs about a potential move. According to Sky Sports, European giants Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG and Juventus have all opened talks with Rudiger’s representatives.
The centre-back has been a key member of Thomas Tuchel’s squad. He has started 20 of the club’s Premier League games this season. That is the most of any Chelsea outfield player.
But previous contract discussions have proven unsuccessful. The 28-year-old is reportedly unhappy at his current salary, and could exit Stamford Bridge at the end of the campaign.
Bayern Munich are favourites to bring in the experienced defender. He has previous experience playing in Germany, having played for Stuttgart from 2012-2016. Rudiger then spent a short period at Roma before making the switch to England.
Despite the heavy interest from several heavyweights across Europe, Man Utd will seek to persuade the centre-back to stay in England. The Red Devils undoubtedly need recruits all over. But defensive reinforcements are perhaps top of the list.
— Antonio Rüdiger (@ToniRuediger) January 2, 2022
Potential defensive crisis at Chelsea
It is not only Rudiger who could be on his way from Chelsea this summer. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta and fellow defender Andreas Christensen are both out of contract at the end of the campaign. Both Azpilicueta and Christensen have been linked with a switch to Barcelona, as reported by Gianluca di Marzio.
Moreover, Ben Chilwell finds himself out for a large period after sustaining a knee injury. Fellow full-back Reece James is also on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Fortunately for the Blues, there has been good news lately. That involves the one-year contract extension signed by veteran defender Thiago Silva. The 37-year-old has been immense at the back this season. His new deal will be welcomed with open arms by Chelsea fans and indeed by Tuchel.
Rudiger replacement plans in place
The January transfer window is now underway, and Chelsea have unsurprisingly been linked with several top players. Many of the potential incomings are defenders, with Tuchel reportedly planning ahead in case an agreement cannot be reached with Rudiger.
Potential transfers include the likes of Juventus centre-back Matthijs De Ligt and PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe. The two could be available either this month or in the summer. Sevilla central defender Jules Kounde is another who the Blues could turn to.
And with the club’s full-back crisis in full swing, there has been no shortage of rumours in that area. Everton’s Lucas Digne leads the way in that respect. AC Milan’s Theo Hernandez is another potential option. Barcelona right-back Sergino Dest is also being monitored.
As well as a handful of Chelsea defenders potentially on their way out, a number of other first-team players could exit the club. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley and Hakim Ziyech are perhaps the three biggest names who may look to find regular football elsewhere.