Barcelona are reportedly lining up Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger as a possible long-term replacement for Gerard Pique.

According to a report by Catalan outlet El Nacional, Antonio Rudiger has emerged on the radar of Barcelona over a possible Bosman move in the summer transfer window. The Catalan giants consider the Chelsea defender a possible reinforcement if Gerard Pique calls it quits at Camp Nou.

Much like Gerard Pique, Antonio Rudiger’s future at Chelsea is shrouded in uncertainty, albeit for a different reason. While Pique could leave Barcelona as part of an impending squad overhaul in the summer transfer window, Rudiger has entered the final six months of his contract with Chelsea.

Rudiger is enjoying the best phase of his career, with Thomas Tuchel reinvigorating the German defender following his appointment as the Chelsea boss last year. The 28-year-old played a leading role as Chelsea clinched the UEFA Champions League title in the 2020/21 season, and he has only gone from strength to strength this term.

The German international has made 176 appearances for Chelsea to date, chipping in with nine goals and seven assists in the process. But the Blues are in a spot of bother due to his uncertain contractual situation and are desperately trying to secure his long-term future. At the same time, Rudiger’s situation has captured the attention of several European bigwigs, including Barcelona.

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The Catalan giants have been linked with two other Chelsea defenders in Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta. The interest in Rudiger particularly stems from Pique’s uncertain future at Camp Nou. The veteran defender has asserted that he is ready to step aside if his departure helps Barcelona economically.

The 28-year-old has also been linked with Real Madrid, although recent reports have claimed that the Merengues have cooled their interest due to his wage demands. While Rudiger could be a viable option to replace Pique, Barcelona’s financial woes could force them to look elsewhere.

Rudiger’s impending status as a free agent does attract Barcelona, but they will only be able to pay his wages if they get Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique off their books. Meanwhile, Chelsea will continue trying to tie Rudiger down to a new contract and an intriguing 2022 beckons for all parties involved.

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