German international Antonio Rudiger joined Chelsea from AS Roma for a fee of £34 million back in 2017. He was reportedly never Antonio Conte’s first choice and the Italian boss always had his heart set on Kalidou Koulibaly. Rudiger came in with a reputation of a centre back who is a tough tackler, good on the ball and very fast.
His debut season didn’t start in the best possible way as his Premier League debut coincided with the club losing 3-2 to Burnley at home. He improved as the season went on, settling well alongside Christensen and Cahill in Conte’s back 3, even though he was never far away from some erratic decisions in defence. His best moment of the season, and perhaps the best of his Chelsea career, was the man of the match performance in the 2018 FA Cup Final against Manchester United.
After a poor World Cup with Germany, he started off the 2018/19 season well, this time under new boss Maurizio Sarri and deployed alongside David Luiz in a back 4. He was fairly solid for the first part of the season, when Sarri’s side started the season on fire. He put in an immense performance against Liverpool at home, where he did an outstanding job at marking Mo Salah out of the game. He even scored some crucial goals, most notably the opener against Manchester United. However, as the season went ahead, his struggles piled up along with his teammates’ struggles. He had some erratic performances towards the latter half of the season and ended the season with an injury which ruled him out for a majority of the following campaign.
His struggles have increased more than ever under Frank Lampard. Last season, after coming back from injury, he played a crucial part in the 2-2 draw against Leicester, heading in with both of Chelsea’s goals. Apart from that, it was a very difficult season for the German international. His individual mistakes increased, his lapses in concentration became more and more apparent and although the rest of the defence didn’t do themselves any favours, there is a very good argument that can be made for him being one of the weak links. Some examples of games where he didn’t perform to the required level are that 3-0 away defeat to Sheffield United, where he was at fault for 2 of the 3 goals and also that 3-2 defeat against West Ham, where he didn’t cover himself in glory while conceding the last minute winner from the Hammers.
However, he seems to be a very popular figure in the dressing room, always joking around and keeping a positive atmosphere and it has been very well documented that he was also crucial in the club’s pursuit of his countrymen Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. But the writing seems to be on the wall for Antonio Rudiger. He hasn’t featured in any of the games so far this season and apparently Lampard doesn’t see him in plans moving forward.
He was very heavily linked with a move away from the club, with rivals Tottenham Hotspur ahead of all clubs fighting for his signature and it might just be the best thing for all parties if Rudiger predictably makes a move away from West London in the upcoming January transfer window.
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