Manchester United plot shock move for Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger amid Harry Maguire doubts – Paper Round
Manchester United are ready to poach Antonio Rudiger for free from fierce rivals Chelsea this summer as the club questions Harry Maguire's future at Old Trafford. Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain offer Kylian Mbappe a record-breaking contract extension, Romelu Lukaku is set to stay and fight for his place at Chelsea, while the Blues target Barcelona outcast Ousmane Dembele.
Antonio Rudiger of Chelsea FC looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round Of Sixteen Leg One match between Chelsea FC and Lille OSC at Stamford Bridge on February 22, 2022 in London, England.
Manchester United have entered the race to sign Antonio Rudiger from Premier League rivals Chelsea this summer. The 28-year-old is approaching the end of his current contract at Stamford Bridge and is yet to make a concrete decision on his future. Rudiger is aware that he can command a salary of around £400,000-per-week if he were to join a top European club and Chelsea are currently only tabling a contract worth half of that. The Mirror reveal that Manchester United are keen to add Rudiger to their squad in a bid to add leadership amid doubts over the future of club captain Harry Maguire at Old Trafford. Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are both interested in signing Rudiger this summer too.
Paper Round’s view: Rudiger has proven himself as one of the best centre-backs in world football since Thomas Tuchel took over in west London just over a year ago. The system at Chelsea suits him perfectly and he is well within his rights to demand a pay rise. It's going to cost Chelsea a lot more to replace Rudiger so they need to be more flexible in their negotiations otherwise the German will walk for free this summer. It does spell bad news for Maguire. His form this season has been poor and he occupies the left-sided centre-back role - just like Rudiger. It wouldn't be the best decision to completely disregard the £80-million defender after one bad season. Maybe the pair could work together in a back three alongside Raphael Varane.
Kylian Mbappe has reportedly been offered a record-breaking contract extension to stay with Paris Saint-Germain. The World Cup winner is rapidly reaching the expiry of his contract at Le Parc des Princes this summer and the Ligue 1 leaders are desperate to keep hold of him. Marca report that PSG have handed Mbappe a “blank-cheque renewal offer”, which was actually rejected by the 23-year-old. The extension was an attempt to keep Mbappe for a further two years but would allow him the option to leave after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The French forward is edging closer to a blockbuster summer move to Real Madrid, which would be on a smaller contract.
Paper Round’s view: It’s clear that PSG are desperate to hold on to Mbappe, but it seems more and more unlikely every day. Surely Mbappe would have just signed a contract extension by now if he was willing to stay with the Parisians. It’s refreshing to see that he is not allowing his career to be determined by finances – even though he won’t be on pennies at Real Madrid. The most interesting part of the report was the fact that PSG were willing to allow him to leave after the Qatar World Cup later this year. The Ligue 1 leaders are a Qatari-backed club, so probably wanted to keep the most marketable players in the French capital ahead of the World Cup. But what does that mean for PSG going forward?
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Lukaku to stay and fight for Chelsea place
Romelu Lukaku has decided to stay at Stamford Bridge and fight for his starting spot at Chelsea. The Belgian striker re-joined the west Londoners from Inter Milan last summer for a club-record fee of £97.5 million. However, his poor form – combined with a controversial interview with the Italian media before Christmas – has led to doubts over Lukaku’s Chelsea future. Reports have linked the 28-year-old with a shock return to Inter, but the Mirror reveal that Lukaku is “desperate” to win his place back in the Chelsea team after Thomas Tuchel recently replaced him with Champions League final goalscorer Kai Havertz.
Paper Round’s view: Lukaku’s historic homecoming hasn’t really gone to plan as he would have hoped. The former-Manchester United forward had a point to prove upon his return to the Premier League and he has done little to change the opinions of his doubters. Lukaku absolutely dominated defences in Serie A and he was integral to Inter’s league title last year. Maybe it’s the playing style under Tuchel that doesn’t suit his key traits. Even though it is baffling to watch Chelsea stump up nearly £100 million on a striker and not play to his strengths, Lukaku must show that he’s willing to adapt. There’s plenty time left this season for him to prove the haters wrong.
Chelsea will reignite their pursuit of Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele this summer. The World Cup winner is available to sign for free when his contract at the Camp Nou expires in June and Chelsea have already entered negotiations with Dembele’s representatives. The west London club were also looking at Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry but turned their attention to Dembele due to the fact that he does not command a transfer fee. The 24-year-old wanted to stay at Barcelona, but the Catalan club cannot afford to meet his wage demands. Dembele has also attracted interest from Manchester United and Juventus.
Paper Round’s view: It seems strange that Chelsea are planning to add another attacker to their squad. The Blues already have Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz to occupy the wide areas. Maybe the club are planning for potential summer exits. The fact that Dembele is available for free and has successfully worked under Thomas Tuchel before at Borussia Dortmund helps the decision make a bit more sense though. It’s tough to pass up this kind of opportunity. Let’s remember that Dembele was once viewed as a £135-million player. It is odd that Paris Saint-Germain are not interested in him. The Frenchman could be a solid addition for the Ligue 1 leaders if Kylian Mbappe leaves this summer.