(Reuters) – Antonio Rudiger has confirmed he will leave Chelsea on a free transfer at the end of the season, saying the lack of communication over a new deal eventually led to his decision although he holds no grudges against the club.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said in April that the defender would leave when his contract expires. The German international, 29, is set to join LaLiga champions Real Madrid on a four-year deal.
Sanctions imposed by the British government on Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine meant that the club cannot sign new players or renew existing contracts.
“My contract negotiations had already started to get difficult last fall,” Rudiger wrote in The Players’ Tribune on Friday. “Business is business, but when you don’t hear any news from the club from August to January, the situation becomes complicated.
“After the first offer, there was a long gap of just nothing. We’re not robots, you know? You cannot wait for months with so much uncertainty about your future.
“Obviously, no one saw the sanctions coming, but in the end, other big clubs were showing interest, and I had to make a decision. I will leave it at that, because business aside, I have nothing bad to say about this club.”
Rudiger has been a key player for Chelsea since arriving at Stamford Bridge from Italian side AS Roma in 2017 and has made more than 200 appearances for the club in all competitions.
He won the FA Cup, Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup during his time in London.
“Chelsea will always be in my heart. London will always be my home. I came here alone, and now I have a wife and two beautiful kids,” Rudiger added.
“I have an FA Cup, a Europa League and a Champions League medal. And of course, I have hundreds of memories that will stay with me forever.
“Yes, I heard the abuse. But I also felt the love. At the end of the day, the light was stronger than the darkness. For that, I will always be Chelsea.”
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; editing by Martyn Herman)