THOMAS Tuchel has confirmed Antonio Rudiger will leave Chelsea in the summer.
The defender, who is approaching the end of his contract, has been linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United and PSG, while his agent met with Barcelona officials last month over a potential summer move to the Nou Camp.
Speaking to Sky Sports after Chelsea’s 1-0 win over West Ham, Blues boss Tuchel confirmed: “The situation is that 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 actions. 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. He is a top defender in the last one-and-a-half years for me. We then need to find another solution.”
In the press conference that followed, Tuchel confirmed the decision was not a factor in his absence at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
“He’s injured. No concerns from him,” he added. “It’s a groin and in the other leg a bit hamstring. He is somebody who plays through pain anyway. It’s not even an injury and he feels insecure. He’ll come back to training on Tuesday ahead of Thursday.
“He has no doubts and he made no doubts that he will play until the end of the season. This is what he did from day one and this is what he’ll do for the last minute.”
And pressed on whether the Blues will be able to replace Rudiger after his departure, Tuchel said: “In the moment not, because of the sanctions. Hopefully the sanctions will be the past.
“We had a connection from day one and he deserves my full support. I’m just happy to have had the chance to coach him in the team and the club did as well. We had offers, big offers and the club tried everything but we cannot fight anymore. We have the sanctions, we can’t continue. It is what it is.
“It would be ideal [for sanctions to be lifted before the transfer window] but even if we wish for it, you can’t pull grass for it to grow faster. We have to deal with what the reality is. The sanctions are still in place and the situation is not cleared for next season. We try to focus on the last weeks.” (SkySports)
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