'Hard task': Nigel De Jong thinks Chelsea might struggle to keep hold of 28-year-old player

Nigel De Jong claimed that Chelsea will do extremely well to ward off Antonio Rudiger’s interested suitors.

Speaking on beIN SPORTS after the Blues reached the Carabao Cup final by beating Tottenham Hotspur, De Jong said the match-winner is going to be a hard man to keep hold of.

The man of the moment

Rudiger proved his importance once again to Thomas Tuchel’s side by scoring the only goal of the second leg last night.

He bundled the ball off his back into the Spurs net after 18 minutes, ensuring the tie was pretty much sealed there and then.

Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

His threat in both boxes cannot be understated, nor can the German’s full-blooded commitment to the course.

Which makes the 28-year-old’s possible departure from Stamford Bridge even more concerning.

What’s happening behind the scenes?

The defender is wanted across the continent by Europe’s heavy hitters, now that he can negotiate terms of a move to another team this month.

Those jostling for Rudiger’s signature are waiting to see with bated breath if the Chelsea board will meet his wage demands.  

Marina Granovskaia has yet to improve the £140,000-a-week (The Athletic) offer made last August, yet there have apparently been positive talks with the player’s agent in the past few weeks.

Mainly because of Tuchel’s great desire to tie down his fellow countryman.  

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Antoni-go or Antoni-stay?

However, despite this slight change in attitude, the Blues are still no closer to confirming the extension of their number two.

A scenario that De Jong insisted needed to be resolved quickly, in order to avoid losing him indefinitely.

“If I was Tuchel, I would sort that contract out as soon as possible, because you can’t have him walk away for free at the end of the season,” said the former Manchester City midfielder.

“He is too much of a big influence in that dressing room and as a player as well for him to go move somewhere else.

“But we all know in this business and how it is football, you have to have a good offer on the table in order to keep these players nowadays.

“If he’s a free transfer, with a player like that, he’s going to weigh up his options for the summer. So, it’s going to be a hard task for Chelsea to keep him.”

Everyone wants a slice of Rudiger

Chelsea’s mission in persuading Rudiger to remain on board will be made harder by the calibre of club that want to sign him.

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Barcelona are all said to be keeping a close eye on the state of affairs.

Manchester United and Tottenham have also been mentioned as keen admirers.

A very select few professionals in the sport earn such respect from the game’s elite authorities.

Letting Rudiger leave would be one of Chelsea’s poorest pieces of business in the last decade, a title Granovskaia will not want against her name.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.