Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger ‘on five-man Real Madrid shortlist’ alongside PSG and Inter duo

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Chelsea’s pursuit of a centre-back went on throughout the summer months, although an acquisition never materialised. And things could be about to get worse as it has emerged Antonio Rudiger is on Real Madrid’s centre-back shortlist per reports.

Chelsea bosses went to strenuous efforts to sign Seville centre-back Jules Kounde last summer as the final piece of Thomas Tuchel’s jigsaw.

Yet after a fee couldn’t be agreed with Sevilla, the Frenchman remained in Andalusia and Chelsea were left short-handed.

The Blues sold centre-backs Kurt Zouma, Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi in order to accommodate the much-coveted defender.

Having not signed their man, Chelsea are short at centre-back – but can at least take solace in knowing the funds are still available to bring him in.

However, a spanner could be thrown in the works in January as Rudiger continues to be linked with a move away from the club, this time to Real Madrid.

Rudiger, 28, has become one of Tuchel’s most valuable players as Chelsea consistently produce defensive masterclasses.

The German was out-of-favour under Frank Lampard, but Tuchel’s renewed confidence in the centre-back has given him a new lease of life and he has become one of the Premier League’s best defenders.

However, the good news stops there.

Rudiger has just nine months left on his contract, meaning that he is free to speak to other teams in January with the view to leaving on a free next summer.

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And with the club reportedly not willing to give him the wages of stars Romelu Lukaku, N’Golo Kante and Timo Werner, Rudiger is rumoured to be considering a move elsewhere.

Real Madrid have been credited by Fichajes with an interest in the Berlin-born defender as they look to replace the duo of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

The pair departed for Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United respectively – and Real have only brought in one defender in David Alaba, leaving room for one more.

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A report by Fichajes suggests that Los Blancos have five men on their shortlist – with Rudiger being the most viable option.

Pau Torres, Marquinhos, Matthias Ginter and Milan Skriniar are also linked with the role, although Fichajes claims that he would be the biggest bargain in the market as he wouldn’t require a transfer fee.

Chelsea have been linked with a move for Matthijs De Ligt in recent days – perhaps as a back-up plan for Rudiger’s departure – while Kounde also remains an option should the Germany international move on.

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