Chelsea have Antonio Rudiger back-up plan as Blues ‘prepare £17m bid’ for his replacement

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Chelsea have already started planning for life without Antonio Rudiger ahead of the January transfer window, according to reports. The German defender has established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet under Thomas Tuchel but is yet to agree a new contract with the Blues despite months of negotiations.

Rudiger has featured in all but one of Chelsea’s Premier League matches this season, helping to keep six clean sheets in the process.

However, his immediate future remains up in the air, with his current deal at Stamford Bridge set to expire at the end of the season.

Talks have been underway over an extension for some time, but Chelsea are yet to find an agreement with Rudiger to keep him at the club as of yet.

He will be able to negotiate a free transfer to a foreign club from January as things stand, with Real Madrid said to be among the interested parties keeping a close eye on the situation.

The Spanish giants have reportedly been in contact with Rudiger to sell their project as they look to bolster their defensive ranks ahead of next season.

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It seems as though Chelsea have already identified the 28-year-old’s successor in the event of his departure, which could emerge as a real possibility when the transfer window re-opens.

The Blues have taken a liking to Fenerbahce defender Attila Szalai and have drawn up plans to launch a bid for his services in January, according to CNN Turk.

The report claims that Szalai, who stands at six feet and four inches tall, has been tracked by Chelsea since the beginning of the season with a view to a January move.

The European champions are said to be preparing an offer in the region of £17million to tempt Fenerbahce into parting ways with the 23-year-old at the turn of the year.

It is said that a bid of this nature could be accepted by the Turkish outfit, who are looking to raise money to fund a mid-season spending spree.

Szalai has emerged as one of Fenerbahce’s most important players since joining the club from Apollon Limassol of Cyprus back in January.

He has already made 18 appearances in all competitions and still has plenty of room for additional growth and development, with his exciting future potential said to be a key factor in Chelsea’s desire to sign him.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Rudiger will eventually decide to stay at Stamford Bridge or seal a move elsewhere in January or ahead of next season.

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He recently declared that he is not worried about the situation, insisting that he remains happy at Chelsea and that any decision on his future is not his to make.

“The most important thing is that I feel happy here. I think if people look at it, they can see I’m happy,” Rudiger told The Guardian last month.

“About the contract situation, I talk with the club. This is for nobody’s ears. It was how I said it would be after the Euros – there would be talks.

“There was a talk between Marina [Granovskaia] and my agent. We have the situation where we are at now and I have nothing to do with all the speculation.

“This is not in my mind. I’m focused on what I’m doing because this is why I wake up every morning.”

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