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Antonio Rudiger: Real Madrid to sign Chelsea defender on free transfer after agreeing four-year deal

Antonio Rudiger will join Real Madrid on a free transfer after running down his Chelsea contract; Germany international turned down Blues' attempts to renew his deal and has signed four-year contract at the Bernabeu; Sky Sports News revealed last month Rudiger would be joining Real Madrid

Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger during the Premier League match between Watford and Chelsea at Vicarage Road, Watford. Picture date: Wednesday December 1, 2021.
Image: Antonio Rudiger will join Real Madrid when his Chelsea contract expires at the end of the month

Real Madrid have confirmed the long-awaited signing of Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger on a four-year deal.

The 29-year-old will move to the Bernabeu on a free transfer after he turned down the Blues' attempts to renew his contract.

Sky Sports News reported last month Rudiger was set to join Real after choosing the newly-crowned European champions over a host of other elite clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Manchester United.

It was reported at the time that the Germany international's new deal would be worth €400,000 (£340,000) per week.

Real say they will present Rudiger as their player at a ceremony on June 20.

Writing on Twitter, he said: "I'm proud to announce that I'll be joining Real Madrid. I'm super excited for all the challenges ahead and can't wait to play my first games for this huge club."

Chelsea added: "Chelsea Football Club thanks Toni for his contribution to our success over the last five years and wishes him well in his future career.

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"He departs with 203 appearances and 12 goals to his name, in that time establishing himself as one of the most passionate characters to represent the club in recent memory."

Rudiger joined Chelsea from Roma five years ago, and won the 2018 FA Cup in his first season at the club under Antonio Conte.

He then helped the Blues to Europa League glory in 2019 under Maurizio Sarri, but struggled for games under the Italian's successor, Frank Lampard.

Rudiger was attracting interest from clubs looking to take him on loan in January 2021, until Lampard was sacked and replaced by Thomas Tuchel, who immediately restored his countryman to the starting XI.

The former Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund defender was instrumental in Chelsea's Champions League success at the end of the 2020/21 season, as well as their Club World Cup win earlier this year.

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Football finance expert Kieran Maguire believes Chelsea will be operated differently under the new ownership of Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital

How Chelsea delay cost them Rudiger

Rudiger was set to sign a contract extension with Chelsea in October 2020 after the club agreed to let him go on loan.

Rudiger was not a regular under then manager Frank Lampard but was happy to extend his deal by a further year until 2023 provided he was loaned out, with interest from PSG, AC Milan and Tottenham. However, Rudiger felt Chelsea took too long to close the new terms of the contract and no deal was signed.

Chelsea offered him a new contract in August 2021 worth £140,000 a week, which Rudiger rejected. Real Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, PSG and Bayern Munich all held talks with his representatives over a free transfer. Manchester United were also thought to be interested.

Rudiger will be one of the highest-paid players in world football at Madrid.

Chelsea eyeing Kounde after takeover confirmed

Jules Kounde
Image: Jules Kounde has agreed to join Chelsea from Sevilla

Sky Sports' senior reporter Melissa Reddy:

With Rudiger's departure finally confirmed, and his fellow centre-back Andreas Christensen also set to move to La Liga, Chelsea are now pressing ahead with their summer recruitment plans.

The £4.25bn Todd Boehly-led consortium takeover of the club was completed earlier this week, which should allow Thomas Tuchel to begin building his squad for the upcoming campaign, with centre-back certain to be an area of concern.

The Blues have a verbal agreement already in place with Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, with the Spanish club preferring a quick deal as they aim to balance their books before June 30.

Talks on a deal for Kounde had collapsed last year but there is optimism from all parties it will get done this time.

Paris Saint-Germain's Presnel Kimpembe is part of a shortlist of central defensive options and is Tuchel's preference. Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez and RB Leipzig's Josko Gvardiol are also among those being looked at.

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