Barcelona want to capitalise on the uncertainty at Chelsea by signing César Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger this summer.
The La Liga club are rebuilding their squad amid a financially turbulent period and are aiming to strengthen their defence by signing the players who made up Thomas Tuchel’s back three when Chelsea beat Manchester City in last season’s Champions League final.
Christensen is expected to move to the Camp Nou when his contract expires at the end of the season and it has now emerged that Barça, who remain interested in Azpilicueta despite a 12-month extension to his deal being triggered this week, have opened talks with Rüdiger’s representatives about signing the defender on a free.
Their moves come at a time when Chelsea are unable to offer players new contracts while they wait for Roman Abramovich to sell the club. Chelsea were granted a licence to continue after sanctions were imposed on Abramovich and will be able to hand out new deals only after the club are sold, with a takeover not expected until at least the end of April.
Chelsea have some leverage with Azpilicueta, whose clause was agreed before the sanctions came into effect, but Barça are still in for the Spain international. They have offered the Chelsea captain a two-year contract with the option for an extra year and could pay a small fee for the 32-year-old, who is interested in returning to Spain after 10 years in England.
Christensen’s situation is thought to be more straightforward, with the Denmark international almost certain to leave after talks over a new deal broke down. However Rüdiger’s situation is less clear. He has made no decision over his future and could stay if Chelsea’s ownership issues are resolved soon.
Rüdiger, who wants about £200,000 a week and a large signing-on fee, has been free to talk to foreign clubs since January and there has been no shortage of interest. Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus have been linked and eyebrows were raised when pictures emerged of Rüdiger’s brother and agent, Sahr Senesie, entering a hotel in Barcelona with Barça’s director of football, Mateu Alemany, and technical director, Jordi Cruyff.
The situation will be of concern to Tuchel, who is likely to need at least one new centre-back. Chelsea have been tracking Sevilla’s Jules Koundé for a while and have been linked with Juve’s Matthijs de Ligt.
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