Real Madrid have successfully completed yet another coup in the transfer market for a second season running. Last summer, Los Blancos landed David Alaba on a free transfer from Bayern Munich, and this summer they have prised Antonio Rudiger from Chelsea.
The Germany international has put pen-to-paper on a four year deal to join the Madrid giants this summer. Rudiger's current contract with Chelsea expires on June 30 and despite the club's efforts to retain him, the centre-back has chosen to seek pastures new in the Spanish capital.
As per The Athletic's David Ornstein, the 28-year-old defender will earn around €9-€10 million per season after tax. It is a significant increase from the wages he currently earns at Stamford Bridge, and anything the club has thus far offered in terms of an extension.
Rudiger completed his medical with the Santiago Bernabeu club, with the official announcement expected after the La Liga club's involvement in the Champions League final. The German defender's deal until the summer of 2026 also includes a €400 million release clause, but does not include an option to extend to a further year.
The news of Rudiger's departure will come as a major blow to Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. The former Borussia Dortmund coach has revived Rudiger's career since taking over at the West London club 18 months ago, and made him a key player in his first-team squad.
The former Stuttgart defender was instrumental in Chelsea's triumph in the Champions League last season, and their run to the FA Cup final in 2022. Tuchel revealed that he fought hard to keep Rudiger at the club beyond this summer, but admits that the sanctions on the club to negotiate new contract hampered their chances.
"We fought hard; I fought hard on a personal level," Tuchel said. "We made big offers to him, and the club tried everything. But for some weeks we cannot fight any more because we have the sanctions. We cannot adjust. We cannot continue, and so it is what it is."
Rudiger is unlikely to be Real's only free transfer this summer with the Spanish giants confident about landing Kylian Mbappe when his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires. The France international has been president Florentino Perez's top target since last summer.