CHELSEA are preparing a fresh bid to keep Antonio Rudiger at the club.
And the defender is ready to listen in what could prove a significant breakthrough in contract talks.
Rudiger, 28, becomes a free agent this summer and is now free to talk to rival clubs with Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich interested.
The German has rejected Chelsea’s first offer of £140,000 a week and is understood to want around £200K a week – which would still not make him the highest paid player in the squad.
And sources close to the deal claim the Blues could offer buccaneering centre half Rudi a huge loyalty bonus to bump up his pay and make staying at Stamford Bridge more attractive.
Romelu Lukaku is believed to earn around £325,000 a week so Rudiger is way behind the striker in the pay stakes.
But equally, the player is enjoying some of the best form of his career, é highly valued by coach Thomas Tuchel and is not desperate to leave.
All these factors are helping Chelsea keep faith in their chances of persuading one of their most influential players to secure his future with them.
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Rudiger’s goal which effectively killed off bitter rivals Tottenham in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi final second leg underlined his importance on the pitch.
After the game Tuchel said: “We have things to offer and he is the player he is, in a Chelsea shirt and a Chelsea environment. He knows that very well.”
Tuchel faces a big task sorting out his defence in the second half of the season with club captain and key defender Cesar Azpilicueta also out of contract in the summer alongside Danish centre half Andreas Christensen.
Azpilicueta at 32 and the club’s longest serving player is relatively straightforward to resolve.
But Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund are massively keen on 25-year-old Christensen.
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