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back in demand Chelsea's reborn defender Rudiger confirms Mourinho 'wanted to sign him' last summer

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Leeds United's Patrick Bamford in action with Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger. Photo: Lee Smith/Reuters

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford in action with Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger. Photo: Lee Smith/Reuters

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford in action with Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger. Photo: Lee Smith/Reuters

Antonio Rudiger has confirmed Jose Mourinho wanted to sign him for Chelsea’s bitter London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in last summer’s transfer window.

But after seeing potential loan moves to Tottenham and Paris St-Germain fall through, Rudiger says his priority remains Chelsea as he attempts to help the club into the quarter-finals of the Champions League and waits to find out if he will be offered a new contract.

Rudiger will have one year remaining on his deal at the end of this season and took the opportunity to remind Chelsea that PSG and Tottenham wanted him last summer before he worked his way back into the side.

It was Thomas Tuchel who tried to sign Rudiger for the French club and the German is now benefiting from having the central defender as part of his Chelsea side.

Tuchel’s 12-game unbeaten start as head coach has been built on a secure defensive unit, which has kept five successive clean sheets going back to Chelsea’s Champions League last 16 first-leg success against Atletico.

Another shutout in tonight’s return leg would be enough for Chelsea to reach the last eight of the competition, with Tuchel’s team leading by a single goal. But they will be without injured pair Thiago Silva and Tammy Abraham, as well as suspended duo Mason Mount and Jorginho, who between them have scored seven of the 13 goals Chelsea have managed under Tuchel.

Rudiger will again start for the home team and it has been quite a turnaround since he was left out of the squad by Frank Lampard, the former head coach, at the start of the season.

“Shocked is the wrong word,” Rudiger said. “But some things I saw coming. That I was not in the squad I didn’t see coming, but I took it on the chin.

“I was close (to leaving). There were really, like, two teams – mainly one – that I was considering. That was PSG. There was one also with Mourinho.

“This is something that didn’t happen and with Tuchel also didn’t happen, so I was a bit upset, of course, because I knew my situation – I would not play that often.

“But then I had the talk with the ex-coach, with Lampard, and all of a sudden I was back in the team, on the bench and also had a couple of games and everything, and worked my way back to it.

“The last games of his reign I was on the pitch and now things are going very well for me. I’m very happy about it.

“I always felt well in the club, they treated me nice. No one told me – especially from the board – I should leave, neither did Frank Lampard.

“At the end of the day, the transfers didn’t happen. The loans that I wanted didn’t happen, but nobody has ever told me I should leave.”

Chelsea are yet to open talks over a new contract with Rudiger, but the 28-year-old German made it clear he would prefer to stay at Chelsea past his current deal rather than hope Mourinho or PSG renew their interest in him. “At the end of the day, I cannot give myself a contract, so that is why I am waiting to see what happens,” Rudiger said.

“Everyone – me and the club – know how much I like this club, so it’s down to people who make these types of decisions.”

© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2021

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