Chelsea’s out-of-contract players have the opportunity to speak to teams abroad in January.
Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, and Cesar Azpilicueta, all of whom are in the final six months of their contracts, have been hot topics this season, with the Blues poised to undergo a period of significant change this summer.
At one point, it was suggested that the trio would be eager to sign a contract to stay at Stamford Bridge, but as the process dragged on, the likelihood for the first two, in particular, began to dwindle.
Thiago Silva was one of the defenders whose contract was about to expire, but he has already extended his stay at Chelsea for another season in 2022.
As Thomas Tuchel pointed out, the Brazilian was Chelsea’s Benjamin Button in 2021/22, thriving in the heart of defence. Many people would expect Silva, who is 37 years old, to retire, and the former PSG star has been connected with a return to Fluminense.
In many ways, Silva’s situation was similar to that of his teammates, in that all parties were eager to extend the defender’s stay, but the veteran does not appear to have been bothered by the value difficulties that have plagued talks with Rudiger and Christensen.
The deal, on the other hand, appears to have the potential to give the Blues some impetus.
While January allows clubs to make bids for players like Rudiger and Christensen, it is also the time when the Blues will begin to realize how highly their talents are valued by other clubs. Of course, this can be counterproductive, but in the case of the German defender, it may provide some comfort.
Tuchel revealed that the club was still in communication with Rudiger over a new contract ahead of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham.
“I can’t anticipate the future,” he continued, “and I’m not sure if his representatives speak to other clubs.” That’s fine if you know or suspect it.
“Of course it’s conceivable because it’s January and he hasn’t signed yet, but as far as I understand it, we and the club are in contact with him.”
“I know, or assume, he is well aware of what I expect of him and how much I value working with him.
“The level at which he’s performing is still really high and remarkable, and there’s no doubt that the situation is causing concern.”
“Well, the point is clear, my opinion is clear, the club is doing everything it can, and there are ongoing communications.” That hasn’t altered in the least.”
According to reports in Spain, Real Madrid, the club most closely linked with signing Rudiger, has refused to offer the rumored £200,000-per-week wage the PSG and Bayern Munich target is seeking, and has grown angry that the former Roma star is still in talks with the Blues.
The 28-year-old is seeking a wage at Stamford Bridge that reflects his status as a first-team regular under Tuchel.
Chelsea are in a better position to seek for a compromise now that the field appears to be narrowing, and may potentially have more confidence that Rudiger will still be at the club next season.
Negotiations over Christensen’s contract have no doubt been frustrating, with both parties wanting to extend it and negotiations looking close on many occasions, but like Rudiger, the impression remains that the Denmark international wishes for a wage that better represents his place in the squad.
Barcelona has been linked with a bid for the 25-year-old, but they are currently in a tricky situation after failing to register their latest addition, Ferran Torres. Signing Christensen on a free transfer does not appear to be a quick fix for their salary bill.
The Catalan club is also thought to be interested in Azpilicueta, and while Chelsea has been more casual in their conversations with the Spaniard, progress would also be contingent on Barcelona’s ability to navigate their current situation.
The delay to contract decisions certainly leaves the Blues in a more difficult position in planning for the future. By signing Silva and January truly providing clubs opportunities to present their offers to players, Chelsea will soon find themselves on more concrete footing. Perhaps, even with momentum swinging their way.