football

‘He’s definitely leaving’ – Paul Merson hints Frank Lampard to blame for Antonio Rudiger’s decision


Antonio Rüdiger is out of contract in the summer (Picture: Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Paul Merson is convinced Antonio Rudiger will be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season but insists Thomas Tuchel isn’t to blame.

The German defender is out of contract in the summer and is yet to agree a new deal with the Blues.

Rudiger has played a key part under Tuchel this season in helping the Blues to the top of the table and his impressive displays have attracted interest from the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

However, former Arsenal star Merson believes his mind is already made up to depart on a free transfer and reckons it has been since falling out of favour under Frank Lampard.

The 28-year-old struggled for game time under Tuchel’s predecessor but is now a regular starter alongside Thiago Silva.

‘Chelsea are going to miss Antonio Rudiger when he goes because it will take £60-70m to replace him,’ Merson told the Daily Star.

‘Rudiger is definitely leaving. If he wanted to sign a new contract he would have done it by now. There’s no chance he stays now.

Antonio Rudiger has become a key player under Thomas Tuchel (Picture: James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

‘But it’s not Thomas Tuchel’s fault. I think he made his mind up to go when Frank Lampard had him out of the team.

‘And even though he’s been phenomenal since Tuchel brought him back in, and they won the Champions League, Rudiger hasn’t forgotten.

‘Teams will be queuing round the block now to sign him, and someone will pay him a lorryload of money to join them.

‘He’s been one of Chelsea’s two best players all season for me and he won’t be easy to replace – but Tuchel should already be thinking about who to go for.

‘There just aren’t many world class centre backs around any more, and the ones who are will cost a small fortune.

‘That’s why I don’t understand it when clubs let a player run down their contract like this. It makes no sense at all and it does my head in.’

Rudiger will be hoping for another clean sheet when Chelsea take on West Ham on Saturday.


MORE : How Saul Niguez has reacted to latest Chelsea setback after being hauled off at half-time against Watford


MORE : Thomas Tuchel provides Reece James injury update and rules four Chelsea stars out of West Ham clash

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