Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger will leave the Premier League club when his contract expires at the end of the season, manager Thomas Tuchel said after his team’s 1-0 win over West Ham United on Sunday which the German player missed due to injury.
Christian Pulisic’s 90th-minute winner at Stamford Bridge made up for teammate Jorginho’s missed penalty.
Sanctions imposed by the British government on Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine have left the club in limbo ahead of their impending sale, as they cannot hand out contracts or buy new players.
Centre back Rudiger, who joined from Italian side AS Roma in 2017 and won the FA Cup, Champions League, Europa League, Uefa Super Cup and Club World Cup at the London side, has been on Spanish giants Real Madrid’s radar.
“The situation is he wants to leave the club. He informed me of this in a private talk,” Tuchel told Sky Sports. “We gave everything — me and the club — but we could not fight anymore because of the actions.
“Without the sanctions we would at least be able to carry on fighting, but out hands are tied. We don’t take it personally. It is his decision. He’s a key figure and will stay that way until the end of the season. But it is disappointing.
“We’ll miss him a lot. He gives courage in the dressing room. The kind everyone is afraid of, but the kind to play 50-55 games at an outstanding level. He is a top defender... We need to find another solution.”
Tuchel added in a news conference later that he had “no concern” about playing Rudiger in their remaining games when he had overcome groin and hamstring issues.
“He said he will play with everything he has until the end of the season,” Tuchel said.“ He’s someone who plays through pain anyway and is used to it.”
Rudiger’s fellow defenders Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen are also out of contract at the end of the season.
Final bids for the club, which was put up for sale by Abramovich, were submitted earlier this month, with several high-profile names in the groups hoping to buy the team.