Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said his squad is unhappy about defender Antonio Rudiger's impending departure at the end of the season but added it must accept the decision and get the best out of him in the season run-in.
Tuchel confirmed at the weekend that Rudiger will leave after his contract expires as sanctions imposed by the British government on Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich mean it is unable to sign new players or renew existing contracts.
“I don’t think anybody likes this decision but we have to accept it. Like it or not there will be life at Chelsea after Toni,” Tuchel told reporters on Wednesday. “It is also the most important thing for us that it ends like it started - on the highest level.
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“No matter how the situation is solved and how active we can be in the transfer market, at the end we will dig in and we will try to squeeze out everything from the squad that we have... and push it to the limit. From pre-season next season... I will be fully involved with all my heart and all my knowledge.”
Tuchel said Rudiger and Reece James could be in contention for Thursday's Premier League trip to Manchester United after training on Tuesday, adding that he will make a late decision on the fitness of Andreas Christensen. Mateo Kovacic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell all remain sidelined by injuries.
Tuchel said he was looking forward to a reunion with interim United manager Ralf Rangnick, who was his coach when he played for Stuttgart Kickers in the German second division. “When he managed Stuttgart, he opened the door for me to the academy,” Tuchel said. “He told us some stuff that we never heard about... and brought big success to the little club where we played.
“Of course, he had his fantastic record in Germany to bring clubs to the very highest level and to build a club from scratch... It is nice to see him.”
Chelsea is winless in its last eight Premier League games against United and is looking for its first victory in the competition at Old Trafford since 2013. “It’s about time,” said Tuchel, when Chelsea's away record was put to him. “I'm happy to have this match and it will always be a big match for me no matter what form they are in.
Chelsea is third in the Premier League with 65 points, 14 behind Liverpool and a further point behind leader Manchester City. United are in sixth place with 54 points.
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