Barcelona are reportedly eyeing a swoop for Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger in January, as the Catalans look for a ‘low-cost’ reinforcement.

According to a report from Spanish publication Sport, La Liga heavyweights Barcelona are lining up a move for a ‘low cost’ centre-back in the January transfer window, with Chelsea star Antonio Rudiger emerging as a viable target.

The Catalans haven’t had the best of the starts to the 2020/21 campaign after a disappointing summer transfer window that was largely dominated by the Lionel Messi saga. There was hardly any recruitment from the club owing to their difficult financial situation.

However, Barcelona are planning to address that in the January transfer window as they look to reclaim the La Liga crown from arch-rivals Real Madrid. A move for Olympique Lyon’s Memphis Depay remains a priority for the Blaugrana but the club are also eyeing another addition to the centre-back department.

As things stand, Barcelona have just three fit centre-backs in Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Ronald Araujo, with Samuel Umtiti sidelined with an injury. Given the Frenchman’s past issues with regards to fitness, the Catalans are keen on offloading him in January, along with a few other unwanted players.

Rudiger on the radars of Barcelona (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Rudiger on the radars of Barcelona (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Should Umtiti be sold, Barcelona will be light in the centre-back department and as a result, they are planning to bring in a new defender, with the focus being on economical options rather than going big. Manchester City’s Eric Garcia remain the top target for the club but should a move for him fail, the Catalans have identified Rudiger as Plan B.

The 27-year-old has been with Chelsea since the summer of 2017, having arrived from Serie A giants AS Roma. He had been a regular in the starting XI at Stamford Bridge for most of his time at the club. However, Rudiger has lost his place in the side in the ongoing campaign, following the arrival of Thiago Silva.

Frank Lampard has preferred the centre-back partnership of Silva and Kurt Zouma as his first-choice, with Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori also available at the manager’s disposal. With Rudiger well down the pecking order of things in West London, he came close to sealing an exit in the summer, only for a move to Tottenham to fall through.

However, he could once again be offered an escape route in January, with Barcelona now looking at him as a potential candidate to bolster their defensive ranks. Rudiger is not the only defender that the Catalans are looking at though, with Liverpool’s Joel Matip, Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi and Fiorentina’s German Pezzella also under consideration.

Rudiger has featured just twice for Chelsea this season and the lack of playing time seems to be affecting his form at the international level with Germany. So, an exit in January could certainly be on the cards for the 27-year-old. Whether Barcelona act on the interest, however, remains to be seen.

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