Rudiger

Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger admits he is flattered by reports linking him to Bayern Munich, but insists he is focused on the task at hand with Chelsea.

The German centre-back has transformed his fortunes at Stamford Bridge since the arrival of compatriot Thomas Tuchel at the beginning of the year, and was key to Chelsea winning the Champions League in the summer.

He has enjoyed a superb start to this season to kickstart Chelsea’s bid for the Premier League title, but there has been concern he could leave the club at the end of the season when his contract is set to expire.

Rudiger – now with Germany on international duty – was quizzed about the links and reported interest from Bayern after he received praise from their coach Julian Nagelsmann, and he said he was ‘honoured’.

‘Of course (Bayern’s interest) honours me and proves that I’ve been doing things right,’ he told the press. ‘But I don’t let myself be distracted.

‘I have an obligation to my club to perform well. I have to prove myself every game and not let myself be distracted by rumours. I make my decisions for myself. They don’t depend on anyone. I feel good where I am.’

The 28-year-old has played more than 150 times for Chelsea since joining from Roma in 2017, adding two FA Cups, the Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup to his Champions League success.

Speaking last month, Nagelsmann hailed him as a ‘decisive player’ and joked he would ‘see if I still have money in my wallet’ if and when his deal expires.

‘I’m generally not a big fan of talking about players who are under contract elsewhere, and besides, we’re outside the transfer period,’ he said.

‘I’m talking about him now as a football fan because he is a German senior international. He has made a super development. Thomas [Tuchel] has handled him extremely well – he was still on the sidelines at Chelsea a year ago and is now certainly one of their most decisive players.

‘He has incredibly good aggression and is a very good defender. I haven’t spoken to Brazzo (Hasan Salihamidzic) about it and if I did, I wouldn’t tell you either!

‘I just read that in the media as well. I’ll have to see when the contract expires and then I’ll see if I still have money in my wallet!’

Sporting director Salihamidzic, however, distanced the club with a move for Rudiger, saying Nagelsmann was simply complimenting a fellow German.

‘It’s not okay when we talk about players who are with other clubs,’ he told DAZN.

‘Julian said that about him in the press conference, but he’s a coach who sees a lot of players – so why shouldn’t he rate an international and speak about his strengths?

‘We are really well filled in the center-back position. We have strengthened ourselves very well and brought in a top player in Dayot Upamecano, Lucas Hernandez is here, Tanguy Nianzou is there, Benjamin Pavard can also play inside – we really are very, very well staffed.’

Rudiger is understood to be seeking around £200,000 a week to renew terms, but is not thought to be in no rush to make a decision on where his future lies. He will be free to discuss a pre-contract agreement with clubs outside England in January.

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