Antonio Rudiger has opted to quit Chelsea and will determine next week where he will go as a free agent.
On Tuesday, The Athletic reported that the Germany international would make a decision on his future before the end of April. Because the club's takeover isn't scheduled to be completed until May, this puts his chances of staying at Chelsea in peril.
Rudiger, whose current contract expires in the summer, has made his decision to depart Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea and its coach, Thomas Tuchel, will be devastated by the news. Rudiger, 29, has been one of Chelsea's greatest players for the previous 18 months, and he was instrumental in the club's Champions League triumph last season.
However, Chelsea's failure to reach an agreement with the defender before owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned last month cost them.
Chelsea made their initial contract offer in August, but it was perceived as an insult because Rudiger was already one of the lowest-paid senior players, earning roughly £90,000 per week.
When Romelu Lukaku arrived from Inter Milan for a club record of £97.5 million last summer, he was paid a base income of around £340,000 per week.
It took four months for genuine negotiations to resume, but the two parties moved a lot closer to a deal.
According to The Athletic, Chelsea offered Rudiger a four-year deal worth £230,000 per week plus a signing-on fee in February. Chelsea were determined to make Rudiger the highest-paid defender in the club's history.
However, it was still less than some other teams were willing to pay, with offers in excess of £290,000 per week being made to the Germany international.
Since January, Rudiger has been permitted to speak with international clubs about joining them as a free agent for the summer. Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG, Juventus, and Bayern Munich have all communicated in some capacity. Manchester United is also interested in signing him.
But there was optimism at Chelsea and in Rudiger’s camp that one more offer would secure his signature because the player’s preference all along had been to stay at Stamford Bridge and continue to play for Tuchel.
It is understood that Rudiger did not need the biggest financial sum to stay at Chelsea, and was willing to accept a smaller amount than those offered to him by other clubs, due to his strong relationship with Tuchel and the club’s fanbase.
But since Abramovich was sanctioned, Chelsea have not been able to discuss contracts with anybody.
There is also no guarantee about what the new owners—a preferred bidder is expected to be named next week—can afford and when they will be ready to discuss terms, if they’re willing to do so at all.