Rio Ferdinand has questioned former England team-mate Frank Lampard’s decision not to play Antonio Rudiger after claiming that the Germany star is the best centre-back in the Premier League.
Rudiger has established himself as a regular in Thomas Tuchel’s defence and played a massive role in their Champions League success last season. He has made the left side of the Blues’ three-man defence his own with some outstanding performances for the club since Tuchel came in.
However, things were very different under Lampard, when Rudiger struggled for any game time.
Indeed, the 28-year-old came very close to quitting Stamford Bridge, only for the club to stop an exit.
But since Tuchel took charge in January 2021, Rudiger has been an ever-present in the Chelsea side. And Ferdinand is clearly a massive fan, as he eluded too before Tuchel’s men faced Juventus in the Champions League.
He told BT Sport, when asked if Rudiger is better than both Ruben Dias and Virgil van Dijk: “At the moment yeah.
“I think Dias last season was the best overall. But since Tuchel’s come, I think he’s been the most commanding centre-back in the league. He’s been phenomenal.
“In terms of his absolute desire to win every ball, aggression. Bearing in mind he’s come from the wilderness under the previous manager Frank Lampard – he just wasn’t flavour of the month under Frank and that’s fine – the character to come back in the team and become an integral member of this team [is impressive].
“One of the main reasons for them going and winning the Champions League last season was because of him. Without him, I don’t think they’d have done it.”
Unorthodox with outstanding defensive instincts
Former Chelsea playmaker Joe Cole was in agreement with Ferdinand’s analysis, adding before the Blues lost 1-0 in Turin: “Sometimes he does things that are really unorthodox, I think he’s outstanding, he’s got defensive instincts.
“He’s always like the last man – that last tackle. That last moment when the attacker thinks they’re finally running in on goal, he comes out of nowhere.”
The issue for Chelsea now is that it appears the player is ready to run down his contract. His current deal expires next summer, meaning he can negotiate an exit with foreign clubs from January.
That would be a huge blow for Tuchel and the club, with Rudiger seemingly already picking his next destination.
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