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Toni Rudiger has blamed his Chelsea exit on contract negotiations with the club stalling at the tail-end of last year.

The Germany defender is poised to complete a free-transfer switch to Real Madrid at the end of the season, ending a five-year spell at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are understood to have tabled a new contract offer that would have made Rudiger the highest-paid defender in the Blues’ history.

But the 29-year-old in the end chose to make the Madrid move, and the 50-cap centre-back has now explained some of the reasoning behind opting to leave west London.

“Unfortunately my contract negotiations had already started to get difficult last fall,” Rudiger told the Players’ Tribune.

“Business is business, but when you don’t hear any news from the club from August to January, the situation becomes complicated.

“After the first offer, there was a long gap of just nothing. We’re not robots, you know? You cannot wait for months with so much uncertainty about your future.

“Obviously no one saw the sanctions coming, but in the end, other big clubs were showing interest and I had to make a decision.

“I will leave it at that because, business aside, I have nothing bad to say about this club. Chelsea will always be in my heart. London will always be my home. I came here alone and now I have a wife and two beautiful kids.

“I also have a new brother for life named Kova (Mateo Kovacic). I have an FA Cup, a Europa League and a Champions League.

“And, of course, I have hundreds of memories that will stay with me forever.”

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Thomas Tuchel, pictured, turned Toni Rudiger’s Chelsea situation on its head (Nick Potts/PA)

Thomas Tuchel’s arrival in January 2021 turned Rudiger’s Chelsea career on its head.

The combative defender had almost left the Blues under Frank Lampard, but quickly became a cornerstone of Tuchel’s side.

Rudiger paid tribute to the German coach, who steered the Blues to the Champions League title last term, and the European Super Cup and Club World Cup titles this season.

“When Tuchel came in as manager and gave me a chance, it was a new life for me,” said Rudiger.

“Actually, he did something right away that I think a lot of managers could learn from. It had nothing to do with tactics. He just came up to me and he said ‘Toni, tell me about yourself’.

“He asked me about me, as a person. That was big. When Tuchel gave me a chance, I had so much motivation that I was never going back to the bench.

“I had made up my mind that I was going to give 200 per cent to this club, to this badge, despite everything that was said about me.

“For me, after everything I endured, the Champions League was just the pineapple on top of the cake.”