Date:14th April 2022 at 4:39pm
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The future of Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger could well be decided in the next week or so, as interest builds following the club’s midweek Champions League exit.

What’s the word?

According to the Mail Online, the situation surrounding the German international will ‘accelerate’ in the next seven days, with clubs from across Europe keen to ‘ramp up’ their pursuit of the former Roma man – who will be available on a free transfer this summer with his existing contract set to expire in June.

As per the report, the Blues’ quarter-final victors Real Madrid are believed to be one of the sides showing an interest, as well as fellow La Liga side Barcelona and French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

A return to Italy has also been mooted for the £100k-per-week colossus with Juventus eyeing a deal, while Premier League rivals Manchester United are also reportedly in the running, with that pool of top clubs all looking to take advantage of the west London outfit’s current predicament which prevents them offering a new deal.

Major Blow

Thomas Tuchel and co will seemingly be praying for a quick resolution to the ongoing bidding process to buy the club – following the turbulent end to Roman Abramovich’s time at the helm – with their hands currently tied with regards to handing out new contracts.

That scenario has reportedly seen Andreas Christensen seal a move to the Nou Camp, while club captain Cesar Azpilicueta could well follow him to Catalonia despite only recently seeing his contract extended due to an existing clause in his deal.

To potentially lose a third central defender this summer in Rudiger would seemingly be a hefty blow for the Stamford Bridge outfit, with the one-time Stuttgart arguably the most pivotal of the lot, having been named the most “commanding centre-back in the league” since Tuchel’s appointment, by Rio Ferdinand.

Also dubbed an “absolute animal” by club legend John Terry, it’s been obvious to see the impact of the marauding defender since his compatriot arrived at the club back in January 2021, with the former Borussia Dortmund boss’ favoured 3-4-3 formation seemingly getting the best out of a player who had fallen out of favour under Frank Lampard.

Pivotal in last season’s European triumph, the 29-year-old was again at his brilliant best in the Bernabeu in midweek, notching a goal and earning a 7.4 match rating, as per SofaScore, as the visitors valiantly attempted to overturn their first-leg deficit.

His impact was keenly felt in both boxes, as he made the most touches in the game (123) and made the most passes into the final third (28), while also winning 100% of his aerial duels and regaining possession on seven occasions, as per Squawka.

Such an all-round display has become the norm for the £31.5m-rated brute – who joined the club in an inital £29m deal back in 2017 – over the past year or so, with it no real surprise that he has caught the attention of the continent’s biggest clubs.

To lose a man whom Martin Keown described as a “force” back in December would no doubt be a significant disaster, particularly on a free transfer, with the Blues unlikely to find a defender who is equally as capable of making a difference at both ends of the pitch.

AND in other news, Big mistake: Chelsea left to rue twice missing out on “extraordinary” £275k-p/w star…