Chelsea join Man United in chase for Roma’s star defender

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In the pursuit of the top-class defender he eagerly seeks, reports this week are linking Chelsea boss Antonio Conte with a move to Roma’s sought-after Antonio Rudiger.

After failing to sign any of his defensive targets in the summer, Conte is eagerly seeking to sign at least one top-class centre-half in January.

Juventus’ Leonardo Bonucci appears to be Plan A for the Stamford Bridge outfit, but Roma’s Rudiger is the latest man touted with a move to the capital.

The 23-year-old is also believed to be courted by both Manchester clubs – particularly United – but it’s Chelsea who are seemingly frontrunners.

Rudiger signed for Roma last season on loan from VFB Stuttgart, before the Italian giants made the move permanent this summer.

The Germany international came through the youth ranks at Stuttgart – after three years in the Dortmund academy – and made his senior debut in the Bundesliga four years ago.

After 80 appearances, Rudiger moved to Italy and impressed immediately with the Roman outfit, helping them finish third in Serie A last term.

A cruciate ligament injury in June ruled Rudiger out of Germany’s Euro 2016 squad, but after missing the opening months of the season, has now returned to fitness ahead of schedule.

The Berlin-born defender has become one of Europe’s top prospects, and could be the answer to Conte’s concerns.

With John Terry nearing 36, and continued speculation over the long-term future of Gary Cahill, Conte is fully aware of the need for a young, quality centre-back.

Rudiger’s contract with Roma runs until 2020, and though the Italian side would be reluctant to sell, a bid of £35m may be enough to test their resolve.

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