Former Arsenal forward Paul Merson believes Antonio Rudiger could receive a negative reception from Chelsea fans during the Blues' remaining games this season. The defender is set to leave the club at the end of the season after failing to reach an agreement over a contract extension.
Rudiger won the Champions League title last season and the FIFA Club World Cup this season. He has been a crucial member of the starting lineup and is considered one of the best defenders in the Premier League.
Merson has said that Rudiger's decision to run down his contract indicates that 'he clearly didn't love the club' and had no intention of signing a new deal.
"Antonio Rudiger is the one player Chelsea couldn't afford to lose, but he clearly didn't love the club enough to stay. He is risking the wrath of the fans now because he is turning down a lot of money and leaving them in the lurch, but let's be honest, it's been on the cards for a long, long time," Merson told the Daily Star.
"I called this one months ago. I don't think Rudiger ever had any intention of signing, not after he was frozen out by Frank Lampard. I know plenty has changed since then. Thomas Tuchel came in, brought him back into the team, and they won the Champions League.
"But I think he had already made his mind up. His contract was already running down, and other clubs would already have been expressing an interest."
According to Goal, Rudiger reached a verbal agreement with Real Madrid over a move to the Santiago Bernabeu this summer. The defender is reportedly in 'advanced negotiations' over a four-year contract with Los Blancos, which could see him earn £200,000 per week in wages.
Chelsea to resume pursuit of Sevilla star this summer
Chelsea could reignite their interest in Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, who could be the ideal replacement for Antonio Rudiger.
The Blues were heavily linked with a move for the Frenchman last summer, but a deal failed to materialise. According to Football.london, the club are expected to resume their pursuit of the 23-year-old this summer. Kounde is eager to join the Premier League giants, as per 90 min.
The 2019-20 Europa League winner has caught the attention of many top clubs in Europe with his performances this season.
His speed, physical stature and versatility make him an ideal transfer target for Thomas Tuchel's side.