Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has hailed the influence of defender Antonio Rudiger and feels he is doing everything right to earn a new contract at the club.
Rudiger, 28, move to Stamford Bridge from Roma in the summer of 2017 and penned a five-year deal. He is close to finishing the fourth of those and will be out of contract at the end of 2021-2022. The Germany international has made 145 appearances in all competitions and 97 in the league.
But he fell out of favour under Frank Lampard earlier this season and barely featured in the league. The former Stuttgart stopper did play in the Champions League but Tuchel’s arrival ushered in a change in fortunes.
He is now a regular top-flight starter and has only missed five of the 27 matches during his compatriot’s tenure. It seemed as though he might be on his way this summer, with Bayern Munich said to be keen.
But now there is every possibility that the giant centre-half might extend his stay in west London. Tuchel has made no secret of the fact he wants Rudiger to stay and feels his football is doing the talking.
“Nothing is better than what he is doing for a new contract,” he told reporters on Monday. “If he wants to have a new contract he has our full support to stay at the club. He is speaking with his performances; he has been amazing since day one.”
Rudiger makes immediate impact
Tuchel arrived in January after Lampard’s departure and has managed to turn things around. Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat to Leicester City was a setback but they can now focus on the Champions League final.
That comes at the end of the month, with Manchester City standing between the Blues and glory. Before then, there is the task of trying to qualify for next season’s elite club competition.
They face the Foxes once again on Tuesday and need to win to keep a resurgent Liverpool at bay. Rudiger is likely to anchor the defence once again.
And Tuchel confessed that he had no doubts about selecting the Berlin-born ace right from the start.
“We chose him in the first match after just one day of training. It was an unfair decision against Kurt (Zouma) but he’s (Rudiger’s) German and I had a clearer picture of what he can do, of course, because I’ve followed him more than Kurt Zouma.
“I had a clear picture of what he can deliver to a team and he took the chance. Since then it’s well deserved he is in the team. He is an aggressive leader, has this natural aggressivity in him.
“He hates to lose, is hard to beat in duels, is very brave, and full of energy in his defending. He is leading by example and has a very positive aggressivity in him.”
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