Paul Merson has blamed former Chelsea coach Frank Lampard for Antonio Rudiger not renewing his contract with Chelsea, that will see the defender leave Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Rudiger, who was put on the periphery by Frank Lampard when he was the coach, will join Real Madrid on a four-year contract till 2026 ahead of the 2022-23 season as his contract with the London outfit expires.
“Losing Rudiger to Real Madrid is going to break Chelsea‘s heart, but his mind was made up 18 months ago with the way he was treated by Lampard,” wrote Merson in his column for Sky Sports.
“He got completely binned out the team by Lampard and I think that left a lasting effect on Rudiger. That’s when he decided that he’s not signing a new contract.”
Merson further stated that Chelsea are as good a team as any, which he believes should’ve been a reason enough for Rudiger to stay put.
“Years ago, if Real Madrid and Barcelona came calling then you went,” stated Merson.
“I don’t see that anymore.
“Chelsea are as good as Real Madrid, you can see that in the Champions League quarter-final. The Blues had a bad 45 minutes but apart from that, they were a far superior team to Real Madrid.”
Replacing Rudiger won’t be easy for Chelsea, who was a leader and brought a lot of things on the table for the Blues.
“Now Chelsea are letting a £70-80 million defender go on a free transfer and they’re going to bring someone in for £70 million who will be nowhere as good as Rudiger,” explained Merson.
“They’re going to have to strengthen in defence as Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are going to leave. I like Trevoh Chalobah but they play three at the back so they’ll need to bring in another defender.”
A different ending
“There was a chance [of staying] but sanctions are not the problem,” Rudiger said after Chelsea lost to Liverpool in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
“I don’t want to go too deep in things.
“At the end of the day it’s not only about one side, it’s both sides.
“Chelsea have been great to me, I have been great to Chelsea.
“As always, I am very, very thankful… me, my family. I became a man here. My kids were born here and everything. London and especially Chelsea will always be special to me.