Real Madrid are close to signing Antonio Rüdiger on a free transfer after reaching a verbal agreement with the Chelsea defender over a lucrative four-year contract.
Rüdiger held positive talks with the Bernabéu club’s hierarchy over the weekend and is set to receive a considerable pay rise after deciding to leave Chelsea when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Madrid's manager, Carlo Ancelotti, has identified the Germany international as a key signing in defence, and while the move has not been finalised it is expected to be confirmed soon. The 29-year-old is expected to earn at least £200,000 a week.
Chelsea were desperate to keep Rüdiger, who currently earns around £90,000 a week, but were unable to reach an agreement with the commanding centre-back before the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich left the club unable to make signings or hand out new contracts. Talks with the player broke down after the European champions offered him a deal worth at least £200,000 a week, only to be met with a request for a signing-on fee and large agents' fees for the player's representatives.
The negotiations ended with Rüdiger rejecting Chelsea's offer and the uncertainty over the club's ownership has played a huge part in his impending departure. The former Roma defender was not willing to wait for Abramovich to sell the club and has decided to seek a new challenge.
Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have targeted Rüdiger, but Madrid are expected to be his next destination. His arrival will boost Ancelotti's options in central defence.
Losing Rüdiger will be a big setback for Thomas Tuchel, whose defence is expected to be weakened further by Andreas Christensen joining Barcelona on a free transfer. The situation will force Chelsea's next owners to spend heavily on defensive reinforcements this summer. Sevilla's Jules Koundé is a long-term target, while there have been links with Leicester's Wesley Fofana.
It is hoped the three bidders looking to buy Chelsea will find out who has been selected as the club's preferred bidder this week. Raine, the US bank handling the sale, is considering offers from a consortium fronted by Todd Boehly, Sir Martin Broughton's group and Stephen Pagliuca's consortium. – Guardian