Chelsea are being made to sweat over the future of Antonio Rudiger with the defender stalling over the club’s offer of a new £140,000-a-week contract.
The impasse has alerted Paris St-Germain, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus, who can all start talking to Rudiger in January when his Chelsea contract will have only six months remaining.
There is currently little sign of Chelsea reaching a breakthrough with Rudiger before then, as their offer, worth around £140,000 a week, falls short of his expectations.
The Germany international has emerged as one of the team’s best performers since the arrival of head coach Thomas Tuchel in January and believes his form should be recognised as such.
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Rudiger currently earns around £100,000 a week, but could pocket more than double that by moving on a free transfer to one of Chelsea’s European rivals.
That leaves Chelsea with the tough choice of increasing their offer or risk losing Rudiger for free at the end of the season when he will be 29 years old.
Rudiger is acutely aware that, at this stage of his career, this is likely to be his last big contract and the former Roma man will take his time over making what he knows will be a crucial decision.
Having lost his place under former head coach Frank Lampard and at one stage being made available for transfer, Rudiger has turned around his Stamford Bridge career and is now a crowd favourite.
That puts Chelsea in a difficult position, but it is only just over a year since the club allowed Willian to join Arsenal after he had enjoyed an excellent first year under Lampard.
The decision proved to be a prudent one, as Willian struggled at Arsenal and ripped up his contract this month to move back to Brazil with Corinthians.
Whether or not that eventually convinces Rudiger to lower his demands and stay where he is currently succeeding remains to be seen, but there is, at this stage, little sign of any progress being made.