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Thomas Tuchel has confirmed Antonio Rudiger has told him he has decided to leave Chelsea, admitting the club will “miss him a lot” and that the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich effectively ended their hopes of turning around the situation.
Rudiger rejected Chelsea’s last offer worth more than £200,000 (€237,000) a week before Abramovich was sanctioned.
Those restrictions mean Chelsea cannot negotiate new contracts or sign new players, which has tied their hands while Rudiger has held talks with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.
Chelsea were shocked by the size of the signing-on fee and agents’ fee demanded by Rudiger and his camp, on top of his wages, and Madrid are now favourites to sign the defender when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Rudiger missed the narrow victory over West Ham United yesterday, which was secured by a late goal from substitute Christian Pulisic, with a groin injury and Tuchel said: “He wants to leave the club. He informed me of this in a private talk.
“We gave everything – me and the club – but we could not fight anymore because of the sanctions. Without the sanctions we would at least be able to carry on fighting, but our hands are tied. We don’t take it personally. It is his decision.
“He is a key figure and will stay that way until the end of the season. But it is disappointing. We will 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. There will be a Chelsea without Toni Rudiger.”
While Chelsea have now given up on keeping one of their best players, West Ham manager David Moyes refused to concede defeat over his, despite the fact Declan Rice has turned down a third contract offer.
Rice is understood to have rejected an offer worth around £200,000 (€237,000) a week as the England international is desperate to play in the Champions League and win trophies.
He might yet do that with West Ham, as the club prepare for Thursday night’s Europa League semi-final first-leg against Eintracht Frankfurt. But Moyes claimed Rice’s decision to turn down another offer could simply be a negotiating tactic.
“Maybe he just wants more money,” Moyes said. “It is not unusual for players at clubs to turn down contracts, maybe it is a negotiation tactic.”
Rice has two years left on his contract and the club have the option to extend it by a third. Moyes added: “We like Dec and he’s got three and a half years to go on his contract, so I don’t think there is any big panic. We’ve got other priorities, trying to add to the squad and get other positions in.”
The fact that the futures of two players who did not start yesterday were the most interesting post-match talking points demonstrated the sleepy nature of the game.
Chelsea looked to be sleep-walking their way to a goalless bore draw against a West Ham side who had clearly prioritised their Europa League campaign.
But Pulisic converted a late low cross from Marcos Alonso to stop Chelsea dropping more points at home, following successive Stamford Bridge defeats by Brentford, Real Madrid and Arsenal.
This was also a timely clean sheet for a Chelsea team who had conceded 11 goals in their previous three home games yet there was not an awful lot for Tuchel or anybody else to get excited about.
At least West Ham, who ended the game with 10 men after Craig Dawson was sent off for conceding a penalty, have got bigger fish to fry. Chelsea have no such excuse for this drab display.
Certainly, Jorginho had nobody else to blame for missing the late penalty. He hopped, skipped and jumped before side-footing a terrible shot far too close to Lukasz Fabianski, who comfortably gathered the ball low to his right.
Dawson, who had been man of the match, was shown a straight red card following a VAR review for his foul on substitute Romelu Lukaku that gifted Jorginho his big chance.
But a few minutes later Pulisic converted Alonso’s cross to get his team-mate off the hook.
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