Antonio Rudiger clearly didn’t love Chelsea enough to stay as Blues lose key man

Antonio Rudiger is the one player Chelsea couldn't afford to lose, but he clearly didn't love the club enough to stay.

He is risking the wrath of the fans now because he is turning down a lot of money and leaving them in the lurch, but let's be honest: it's been on the cards for a long, long time. I called this one months ago. I don't think Rudiger ever had any intention of signing; not after he was frozen out by Frank Lampard.

I know plenty has changed since then. Thomas Tuchel came in, brought him back into the team, and they won the Champions League. But I think he had already made his mind up. His contract was already running down and other clubs would already have been expressing an interest.

You don't wait all that time, refusing to sign, losing all that money you would have got by signing on improved terms, just to turn around and stay. It's serious money he has turned down. He would have been the most well-paid defender in the club's history. But he doesn't love the club, does he? Or he'd have stayed.

And he's an unbelievable defender. Thiago Silva helps him, but I think he helps Thiago Silva as well. They are so good together in a three. It will be interesting to see how the fans are going to be now when he plays at Stamford Bridge. I don't see them being too happy with him.

But he is irreplaceable really. Chelsea can't replace him. No-one has bought the club yet. They are still under sanctions. They can't even line someone up. Rudiger is absolutely perfect for the way they play. He goes and squeezes players. He's full of energy. A different class. And they say he's a leader in the dressing room.

It's very hard to replace all that – and we don't even know when Chelsea will be able to sign players again. Plus, who do they sign who's anywhere near as good? It's not a market full of world-class centre-halves. They're a dying breed.

How will Chelsea replace Antonio Rudiger? Join the debate in the comments section.

Chelsea wanted Jules Kounde from Sevilla. He's been on the radar for a long, long while. But he plays in Spanish football and that is very different to the Premier League. He would take time to adjust. Even though he's a good player, he wouldn't be able to hit the ground running.

I like Wesley Fofana too at Leicester. I think he's super talented. But his injury record isn't great and Chelsea can't afford to be signing players who might break down. Whoever buys the club isn't going to start spending money the way Roman Abramovich did either, so how much of a budget do they even have to replace Rudiger?

It's a real problem area because Andreas Christensen is leaving as well, and Thiago Silva will be a year older. In a World Cup year, you can't expect him to play all the games. But after that it's youngsters like Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr.

Really they need TWO central defenders. But will they be able to sign them, and will they have the money? Everything is up in the air until the takeover is done. But Rudiger is really leaving them in the lurch because they have no-one else who brings the sort of things he does to the table. He's the ones player they will miss the most.

Haaland arrival no reason for Jesus exit

Gabriel Jesus should stay at Manchester City. There's speculation about his future and people think he's unhappy he doesn't play enough – but he's started 17 Premier League games this season.

I think that's a lot. He's played 36 times for City this season. And started a lot of big, big games. Where is he going to go where he can do any better than that? Even if City sign Erling Haaland, he shouldn't leave. No way. This is a team that is going to go deep in four competitions every year and he will always get games.

Pep Guardiola trusts him. He misses a lot of chances but you can play him anywhere in the forward line and he always keeps trying to get in there. He still has a big role to play this season. I don't think Haaland would play a huge amount more than that if he goes there.

But it's mind-blowing how open City were against Real Madrid. It could cost them the Champions League giving top teams so many chances like that. They were outstanding going forward. Couldn't have played any better going forward. But still only won 4-3!

Jury still out on Burnley's big Dyche decision

Sacking Sean Dyche took balls by Burnley's owner and if they stay up, he can say he made the right decision. But they would have to stay up next season as well otherwise you're just prolonging the agony.

I think Dyche would have brought Burnley straight back up if they had been relegated, and deserved more of a chance to turn things around. But if they do survive and somehow consolidate it next season then you have to say sacking him was a masterstroke.

The Watford game is massive. Absolutely huge. Suddenly, I can't see Burnley not winning. And if they do, Everton are in major trouble. I thought Burnley were done. They were atrocious losing to Norwich but they haven't lost since.

Watford have the best three forwards of all the teams at the bottom but they are missing so many chances. They have to win this game now. If they don't win this game, turn the lights out. They are up against it.

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