The search for Antonio Rudiger’s replacement has begun.
Chelsea’s No.2 is getting closer to joining Real Madrid after his stunning performance against Los Blancos in the Champions League prompted the Spanish capital’s higher-ups to go all-out to recruit him as a free agent.
Despite the Blues’ best attempts to re-sign Rudiger, Tuchel has declared that he will depart the club.
“Toni, the media is on it,” Tuchel stated. “The situation is that he wants to leave the club. He informed me of this is 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.”
He added in his post-match press conference: “We had big offers for him and the club tried everything. But for some weeks, we can’t fight anymore. We can’t continue. He has a groin injury and, in the other, a hamstring. He is someone who plays through pain anyway and is used to it. It’s muscle pain, huge discomfort, and he feels insecure because he is not used to muscle injuries.”
The Telegraph reports that the new owners would try to buy two new players for Tuchel once the extended takeover is complete. After the FA Cup final against Liverpool, Andreas Christensen and even Cesar Azpilicueta are expected to follow Rudiger out of Stamford Bridge.
Internal possibilities like Levi Colwill might be recalled and offered a rare first-team berth for his Championship performances. Despite the apparent lock on Kounde, alternative possibilities are still being studied.
News #Gvardiol: Tuchel is a big fan of him and sees him as a potential replacement for Rüdiger. The 20 y/o top defender has no release clause in Leipzig. He is „totally happy“ at RB. No directly contact between #CFC and his management so far. #TransferUpdate @SkySports 🟨 🇭🇷
— Florian Plettenberg (@Plettigoal) April 25, 2022
Josko Gvardiol stands out. According to Sky Germany, the Chelsea boss adores the RB Leipzig defender. Due to the continuing restrictions, there is no documented interaction between the west Londoners and Leipzig.
The 20-year-old began his career with NK Tresnjveka before joining Dinamo Zagreb’s development system in September 2010. After nine years in Zagreb’s development system, the centre-half made his debut for the main squad in 2019.
Leipzig bought him for roughly £17million in the summer of 2021 after 52 appearances for the Croatian giants. Gvardiol has only made 42 appearances for the Bundesliga club and Chelsea may have to treble the £17million amount Timo Werner’s previous club paid for him.
Tuchel is a great admirer of Mateo Kovacic’s international teammate, who is valued at £27million by Transfermarkt. In terms of defence, he has excelled this season. According to FBRef.com, Gvardiol leads all Bundesliga defenders in pressures applied per game (11.8), tackles per 90 (2.07), interceptions per 90 (3.34), and successful blocks per 90. (2.07).
Clearances per 90 (2.90) and aerials won per 90 (2.90) are where he falls short of Niklas Sule and Dayot Uppamecano (2.49). Kounde’s lack of aerial ability may worry Chelsea supporters who will be seeking a quality defence after losing two veteran defenders in Christensen and Rudiger.
Like Werner, can Chelsea negotiate with Leipzig to obtain a player that intrigues Chelsea fans?