Chelsea hope to sit down with centre back Antonio Rudiger to thrash out a new contract before he leaves for Euro 2020 with Germany.
The 28-year-old has just under 18 months remaining on his current deal and had been expected to be forced out the exit door this summer after playing a limited role under Frank Lampard, but new boss Thomas Tuchel has made the German one of the mainstays of his team.
He has started nine of Tuchel’s ten Premier League games in charge, forming a key part in a back three which has conceded just twice under the new boss (one of which was a Rudiger own goal), and club officials are now keen to keep him around.
As noted by the Daily Mail, Chelsea had planned to let Rudiger head off to the Euros without discussing his future beforehand, but there are growing fears that he may choose to leave Stamford Bridge if things don’t get sorted out earlier.
Now, the hope is to accelerate things and sit down with the centre back before he jets off in an attempt to thrash things out early and avoid any unnecessary speculation which the tournament could generate.
A date for talks has not been set just yet, but Chelsea are planning to finalise things soon in the hope of keeping Rudiger around for a little while longer.
If Rudiger does hit the market, there could be plenty of suitors. Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have both been linked with the 28-year-old in recent months, and a good showing at this summer’s European Championship could increase the attention on him even more.
It’s a similar situation to that of Andreas Christensen. A bit-part player under Lampard, the Dane has excelled at the heart of Tuchel’s back three, filling in for the injured Thiago Silva with real class, and now Chelsea are keen to stop him leaving when his contract expires in 2022 as well.
The rediscovered admiration for Rudiger and Christensen suggests that it could be Frenchman Kurt Zouma who departs the club this summer. He was fantastic under Lampard but has featured just three times in all competitions since his departure.
The Blues are expected to pursue a young, experienced centre back this summer, with the likes of RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate and Bayern Munich‘s Niklas Sule mentioned as potential targets, but there will be no new signing until one of the current crop is moved on.
With Cesar Azpilicueta now playing in a central role, Chelsea have five options for the position at the minute, and if a space needs to be made for somebody new, it looks like Zouma will be the sacrifice.