Chelsea suffer serious blows as trio key players to leave on free agent after UK sanction

THOMAS TUCHEL believes players’ wages are not just about pounds — they are also a matter of principle.

Chelsea’s head coach has three senior stars out of contract at the end of this season and insists the club must not be held to ransom over new contracts.

Tuchel has told Chelsea not to be dictated by the three out of contract stars

Tuchel has told Chelsea not to be dictated by the three out of contract starsCredit: Reuters

The battle to keep Andreas Christensen appears lost but there are ongoing struggles to persuade fellow defenders Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta to stay.

Danish defender Christensen, 25, is being lured partly by his heart but also by the fact he can secure a whopping five-year contract with Spanish giants Barcelona.

As a Bosman free transfer he is in a position to net higher wages because there will be no transfer fee.

Tuchel understands the temptation to leave but also claims Chelsea must keep their pay pyramid intact or else risk a divide in the dressing room.

Ahead of Thursday’s Premier League trip to Norwich, he said: “First of all, I think Chelsea pay very good money.

“If players these days run out of contract, there is sometimes a package of money that we cannot match.

“And if we match it, it has an effect on every other player. Some have agents who have other players here and then they know what is being earned and I think we should be strong on it.

“It is on Chelsea’s part to have a policy and guidelines on what it takes and what it needs to be a Chelsea player — what you can earn from it and what is being demanded.


“The club provides a lot of support — it provided financial security during Covid. We should not forget it.

“The structure and the organisation and what is provided for families is  simply exceptional.

“Money can spoil anybody, not only footballers — but this I don’t believe is a given. I strongly believe the opposite. Sometimes we talk about it with the players.

“Money attracts problems you were maybe not aware of when you were a young guy.


“That does not always help and the idea can be that the player is focused a lot on money and loses connection from the young guy who would have come for free to be on the bus to Norwich.

“But it’s not always like this.”

Rudiger, 29, is wanted by Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United and even nouveau-riche Newcastle.

He is in the driving seat over talks about a new deal.

Azpilicueta, 32, is in a stand-off as he wants a three-year deal and the club’s policy is only to stretch to two years max for over-30s.

All three players will be used by Tuchel between now and May whether they stay or go.

Chelsea have won both matches since the club was put up for sale by Russian owner Roman Abramovich, and Tuchel is proud his stars are riding out the uncertainty.

He said: “I hope we are capable. Of course, there are some situations we want to have solved. It’s not ideal.

“The players concerned do very, very well. Credit to the players. It shows the mentality here in the club and in the building that this is normal for them to deliver despite their contractual situation.”

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