Amid all the ongoing uncertainty facing Chelsea, one key area of concern remains the future of defensive colossus and cult hero Antonio Rudiger, with the German international potentially set to walk away from Stamford Bridge on a free transfer this summer as his current contract nears its expiry.
However, the 29-year-old who joined the club from Serie A side Roma in a £34m deal back in 2017 – had initially struggled in his new surroundings and fell by the wayside during Frank Lampard’s second season in charge, only for the arrival of compatriot Thomas Tuchel to spark a real sea change for the rampaging centre-back, as he since been integral to the club’s rapid turnaround in fortunes under the former Paris Saint-Germain boss.
Despite continuing to thrive as an integral part of the Blues’ stubborn backline, it continues to look as if the 6 foot 3 defender will be moving on to pastures new next season, with the club currently unable to offer a new deal owing to the ongoing sanctions facing the west London outfit, albeit with the player’s reported £400k-per-week wage demands having seemingly been a stumbling block for an extension even before those economic restrictions were put in place.
With his future up in the air, a potential new signing has emerged who could well fill his shoes more than adequately – Barcelona’s 23-year-old centre-back, Ronald Araujo.
As per Catalunya Radio, the Blues are one of the sides believed to be interested in pursuing a deal for the Uruguayan – alongside Premier League rivals Liverpool – with the player having failed to agree terms regarding a new contract with the La Liga side, with his current deal set to expire in just over 12 months’ time.
Since making his debut for the Catalan giants during the 2019/20 campaign, the seven-cap international has gone on to become a real mainstay in the club’s defensive ranks, albeit with that rapid rise seemingly not adequately rewarded by his current side who are unwilling to meet the player’s wage demands, having already offered to ‘triple’ his current £35k-per-week salary.
According to the report, the cash-strapped side will ‘not improve their offer’, opening up the possibility of a move being agreed elsewhere, although one possible obstacle in any switch to join Tuchel’s stellar squad could well be the club’s current financial predicament.
READY-MADE RUDIGER REPLACEMENT
It would of course be a significant blow to see the one-time Stuttgart man depart the club, although in Araujo the Blues may well have pinpointed the ideal player to fill the hefty void left behind by the more senior man.
Like Rudiger, the Rivera-born defender – who is also believed to be on Manchester United’s radar – offers a threat in both boxes, having chipped in with four La Liga goals this season, including in the recent 4-0 thrashing of rivals Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
At the other end of the pitch, the Blaugrana star also averages 1.3 tackles per game and one interception per game in the Spanish top-flight, a record better than the current Blues man, who averages just 1.2 tackles and 0.9 interceptions per game in the Premier League, as per SofaScore.
Both aggressive, front foot defenders; like Rudiger – who Rio Ferdinand described last year as an “animal” – Araujo has also been praised for his physical prowess as well as his ability on the ball, with international colleague Facundo Pellistri labelling him as a “beast” for his impressive displays of late for both club and country.
Comfortable as both a central defender and at right-back – where he lined up in that devastating El Clasico win last week – the £36m-rated starlet will surely be an ideal fit in Tuchel’s preferred back three system, although it remains to be seen if he can replicate the current Chelsea regular’s glorious, marauding runs forward from defence.
Barca facilitates the signing of Sarabia by Athletico MadridPaul sarabia has been on Atlético Madrid’s wish list for some time, and it will be until now where everything seems to be hanging on the same line as they intend. After many comings and goings, by implication of Barcelona seem to have found the way, since the Sporting Lisbon wasn’t making things easy.
However, the people from Lisbon have in their possession a purchase option for the winger’s. One that they plan to execute and then sell to the highest bidder. However, that could be broken if Barca puts in that same route to Francis Trincao which comes from having an acceptable season in the wolverhampton from England.By filling the void, Barcelona puts the signing of Sarabia in the hands of Atlético
Until now, the situation has led to finding a substitute for guarantees and that is undoubtedly Trincao. Barcelona has no intention of returning him to their ranks and would have proposed to Sporting the possibility of including him in their plans, thus freeing Sarabia who has everything done to return to Spain.
His desire has been immersed in the return to the highest competition in the country, playing in a competition that he knows and from which he misses many things. However, his current status, being so good, puts him on a fairly high pedestal, that he must assume the mattress sports management.
A providential attack, the one who wants to make Cholo Simeone
Sarabia would join the different players related to the entity in the capital. On one side and sharing an area with Joao Félix, with Ángel Correa and Antoine Griezmann, there is no doubt that the ambition is very high. The team is tired of being in the shadows and wants to go once and for all for a Champions League.
Sarabia is a regular in the schemes proposed by Luis Enrique in the national team. He is a very diligent player in his defensive tasks and with ample margin to act with solvency in attack. An old guard winger, who has shone with the Portuguese team, reaching the round of 16 in the Champions League where they were eliminated at the hands of a candidate, Manchester City.
Two Amercans bids leading the way in Chelsea ownership race
There has been an update in the potential sale of Chelsea, with two Americans bids leading the way in the race to replace Roman Abramovich as owner.
Following the sanctions placed on the Russian Oligarch earlier this month, the onus has been on finding a potential new owner as quickly as possible, in order to alleviate any long-term issues that the current restrictions could have on the club as a whole.
At present, the west London outfit are unable to sign or sell players, while they are also unable to offer new contracts to their current stars, with the likes of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta all facing uncertain futures with their existing deals set to expire in just a few months time.
While a swift sale would not be an instant fix to their current economic woes – amid reports that the club may still have to sell a number of players this summer to generate funds even if a new owner is found – it would at least bring to an end this current uncertainty, hence the desire for a prospective investor to be found.
As per the Financial Times (via Forbes), the current ownership battle is being led by two rivalling American bids, with UK businessman Nick Candy having dropped out of the running despite going public with his desire to buy the club in recent weeks.With a potential Saudi-backed consortium also not in contention, the leading figures in the battle to replace Abramovich are now US billionaire Todd Boehly – part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers – alongside Swiss businessman Hansjorg Wyss, while a separate bid has been placed by fellow American billionaire Josh Harris and his partner David Blitzer – the two men currently part-owners of NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
That second offer is, however, complicated by the fact that Harris and Blitzer have a current stake (18%) in Crystal Palace, meaning they would have to relinquish that position were they to be successful in their bid to take control at Stamford Bridge.
There has seemingly been no shortage of interest in a new takeover, with the report suggesting that as many as 200 enquiries were made by prospective investors when Abramovich – who bought the club for a fee in the region of £140m back in 2003 – initially put the club up for sale at the start of March prior to being place under sanction, having stepped down from his role at the club a few days earlier.
THE VERDICT: BIG BOOST
This latest update will come as a real boost to those of a Chelsea persuasion, with the club and fans alike growing restless for a sale to be confirmed, as they look to steer themselves out of what has been a particularly turbulent period owing to their current owner’s actions.
Despite the lack of a quick fix for any new owner, one issue that looks to have been resolved is the future of boss Thomas Tuchel, with the German appearing to commit his future to the club despite recent speculation of an enquiry being made by rivals Manchester United to fill their permanent manager’s position.
Even amid all the uncertainty, the former Paris Saint-Germain head coach has remained an unflappable presence in the hot seat, while he has also ensured that the club’s on-field performances have not been impacted too greatly, with his stellar squad through to the FA Cup semi-final’s and Champions League last eight, as well as having a firm grip on third place in the top-flight table.