Manchester United have reportedly ‘expressed an interest’ in Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger as he approaches the end of his contract with the capital club.
According to The Independent, the Red Devils have joined Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the race for the 29-year-old’s signature, although his preference would be to move overseas.
The report states that: “Manchester United and Tottenham have also expressed an interest in Rudiger, but the German international would prefer to move abroad if new terms cannot be agreed with Chelsea.
Chelsea have offered Rudiger a new deal, but it is understood the terms are significantly less lucrative than those being discussed by both Madrid and Bayern as it stands.”
Rudiger’s current deal is set to expire in the summer of 2022, and with negotiations over fresh terms at a standstill, he could depart Stamford Bridge on a free transfer at the end of 2021/22.
During his time in west London, Rudiger has established himself as one of the world’s best centre-backs, winning one Champions League crown, one FA Cup, one Europa League and one UEFA Super Cup throughout his 169 appearances.
But he has elevated his game to new heights ever since Thomas Tuchel replaced former manager Frank Lampard in the Chelsea dugout, earning praise from one of the best to ever do it in the English top-flight.
“Look at Rudiger, he’s arguably, since Tuchel has been there (at Chelsea), been the best defender in the Premier League. Him or (Ruben) Dias in that time. He’s been unbelievable, he’s like an animal,” former United colossus Rio Ferdinand told his podcast (via the Metro).
And his manager has also been openly effusive in his praise for the Germany international.
Speaking to BILD, Tuchel heaped praise upon the defender ahead of Chelsea’s Carabao Cup clash with Southampton earlier in the campaign saying: “Toni has established himself exceptionally since the first day we arrived. He is an absolute leader and plays at an incredibly high level.”
With new interim manager Ralf Rangnick securing the Red Devils’ first clean sheet in the Premier League since March over the weekend, he has already made steps towards addressing their defensive woes.
However, their troubles at the back are far from ironed out, and their record of 24 goals conceded from their opening 15 league games of the season leaves them with a worse tally than Burnley, who sit in the relegation zone.
Some of United’s issues have stemmed from individual errors and significant drop-offs in form, with Harry Maguire arguably suffering more than most.
As per FBref.com, the 28-year-old has recorded just 0.56 tackles won per 90 this term and 1.6 successful pressures, while only pulling off 2.48 progressive passes and 39.5 carries.
Rudiger, on the other hand, has produced tallies of one, 2.64, 4.64 and 52.8, respectively, highlighting how the £100,000-per-week beast could be exactly what United need to stem the flow of goals leaked on a long-term basis.
Whether Rangnick can convince his compatriot to join his Old Trafford revolution remains to be seen, but the club’s supporters will surely be hoping see him swap allegiances over the comings months. He’s exactly what the new manager needs to improve his squad.