Manchester United are reportedly leading Tottenham Hotspur in the race to sign Chelsea’s defensive stalwart Antonio Rudiger.

According to Football Insider, Tottenham are losing ground in the race to sign Chelsea star Antonio Rudiger despite their director of football Fabio Paratici’s best efforts. The German international is out of contract at the end of the season and has yet to agree fresh terms at Stamford Bridge.

The 28-year-old has become an ever-present figure at the back for the Blues ever since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel. Regarded as one of the best central defenders in the Premier League, he has helped Chelsea win the FA Cup, Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup during his time. He recently added another prestigious title to his collection as the Blues clinched the FIFA Club World Cup.

To date, Rudiger has made 183 appearances for Chelsea, chipping in with ten goals and seven assists in the process. The contract stand-off has had no impact on his professionalism as he continues to deliver stellar defensive displays on the pitch. But having already rejected a new proposal from the club, his future looks to be in greater doubt than ever before.

The centre-back has been the subject of interest from Tottenham Hotspur, who have made the Chelsea ace a priority transfer target for next summer. Fabio Paratici is working hard behind the scenes trying to work out a favourable deal. However, they have hit the roadblock in their pursuit.

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As per the report, the Lilywhites are being priced out of the deal’s working costs, with the player demanding over £300,000-a-week in wages, which would effectively upset the wage structure at the club, considering star striker Harry Kane is the club’s highest earner at around £200,000 per week. This comes as yet another transfer blow for Antonio Conte, who is believed to be a huge admirer of the Chelsea ace.

This development has also paved the way for Premier League rivals Manchester United, who are understood to be in pole position to secure Rudiger’s signature come this summer after holding preliminary talks with player’s representatives.

Manchester United’s defence has shown massive shortcomings this term, and that has not been helped by captain Harry Maguire’s shaky form and error-prone displays. Not to mention Raphael Varane has yet to fully integrate into the side due to injury issues.

Furthermore, with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones expected to depart Old Trafford in the summer, the Red Devils could be in for a defensive shake-up come summer. Signing a vastly experienced defender of Rudiger’s credentials and leadership qualities could go a long way towards addressing their woes.

Aside from heavy Premier League interest, the 28-year-old’s contractual situation has attracted attention on the continent, with European big-wigs Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, keeping a close eye on developments. The overseas clubs do hold the advantage of being able to sign him on a pre-contract deal.

With Chelsea still locked in talks with Rudiger’s entourage, it will be interesting to see where the German international will be plying his trade next season.

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