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Frank Lampard blamed for ‘£70m-£80m’ Chelsea transfer howler

Frank Lampard, Chelsea
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The Premier League side will lose star defender Antonio Rudiger for free when the transfer window reopens.

Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is to blame for Antonio Rudiger’s imminent exit, according to Paul Merson.

The Germany international will end a five-season stay at Stamford Bridge when his contract expires this summer. According to various reports, he has accepted a four-year deal to join Real Madrid. The Spanish champions plan to make an announcement once their campaign is over.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel and the club tried to convince Rudiger to stay, but Merson believes the damage was done long ago when Lampard, who now coaches Everton, ‘completely binned’ the German last season.

“Losing Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid is going to break Chelsea’s heart – but his mind was made up 18 months ago with the way he was treated by Frank Lampard,” the ex-Arsenal star told Sky Sports.

“He got completely binned out the team by Lampard and I think that left a lasting effect on Rudiger. That’s when he decided that he’s not signing a new contract.

“Years ago, if Real Madrid and Barcelona came calling then you went. I don’t see that anymore. Chelsea are as good as Real Madrid, you can see that in the Champions League quarter-final. The Blues had a bad 45 minutes but apart from that they were a far superior team to Real Madrid.

“Now Chelsea are letting a £70m-80m defender go on a free transfer and they’re going to bring someone in for £70m in that will be nowhere as good as Rudiger.

“They’re going to have to strengthen in defence as Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are going to leave. I like Trevoh Chalobah but they play three at the back so they’ll need to bring in another defender.”

Rudiger is set to make his final appearance for Chelsea on Sunday against Watford in the club’s last game of the season.