Thomas Tuchel has again called for patience as Chelsea continue to negotiate a new contract with Antonio Rudiger.
The 28-year-old’s current deal at Stamford Bridge expires at the end of the season and he is free to negotiate with clubs from abroad in January.
It is understood that there is a feeling of resignation among the club’s hierarchy that Rudiger will not extend his deal in west London, with the Blues’ latest offer still well short of matching his desire to become one of their highest-paid players.
Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham are the four Premier League clubs interested in signing Rudiger, while Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Inter have all registered their interest and are preparing January offers.
The ongoing uncertainty is a distraction for Tuchel, who remarked in his latest pre-match press conference when asked if no player is bigger than Chelsea or if Rudiger’s situation remains crucial to the club’s future: “Both. Both answers are correct.
“It is super important and as I understood myself and everybody else, we absolutely accept the importance, we’re fully aware of the importance of Toni and the role that he’s playing on and off the pitch.
“There is no doubt in that and yes, it’s true, nobody is bigger than the club, nobody. This is a team effort, and it is a team game, and it is a strong club, and it is about the club.
“It is also not about me and it is not only about Toni. And I mean that in the best way, because we know what he’s doing and we’re fully aware of it. So both answers are right and in the end we need a bit of patience. I have no update right now.”
Regarding a potential drop off in form as talks continue, Tuchel added: “With Toni I don’t think so, I don’t think there’s a dip in form really,” he said. “He’s played so much that he had needed a break and we gave that to him and I honestly expect him to be in top shape now.”
Chelsea are facing a possible crisis in defence next year, with Andreas Christensen and captain Cesar Azpilicueta also out of contract next summer, although there is increasing optimism that both will commit their futures to the Blues – despite the former’s agent allegedly increasing his demands.
If Rudiger leaves as expected, a replacement will undoubtedly be sort by Chelsea, and could come in the form of Leicester centre-back Wesley Fofana.
Goal report that the 20-year-old, who is currently injured after suffering a broken leg in pre-season, is a possible target, although any move will be made in the summer once Rudiger’s future is decided.