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Antonio Rüdiger is a player who splits opinions and that’s mainly because he is inconsistent. Despite being good in the air and comfortable with the ball at his feet, not surprising since he used to play as a striker in youth teams, he is also prone to errors.
Rüdiger was Chelsea’s first signing of the summer and was unveiled with one of the most entertaining/weird announcement videos (depends on where you stand on this things). However, when the 24 years old sealed his £29 million move from Roma a few eye brows were raised.
Despite being a regular in the German national team he isn’t a player who gets fans thrilled. He is neither an exciting young talent nor an experienced ‘world class’ player. He is somewhere in between.
This brings a big question, as it always does with Chelsea, why spend all that money on Rüdiger when you have players like Andreas Christiansen and Kurt Zouma? The former has progressed in to a solid defender during his time at Borussia Moenchengladbach and Zouma has proven he deserves to be at Chelsea not shipped out on loan.
Be that as it may Rüdiger’s time at Chelsea until now has mostly been perplexing. The German has been deployed in two positions by Antonio Conte, as one of the 3 Center Backs and as a wing back. The Italian manager is also not certain on how to best use the defender.
Chelsea’s robust defensive unit was the reason for their Premier League trophy in 2016/17 but they have been leaking goals this season and their horrendous defending was on full display during their Champions League double tie against Roma, in which they have conceded 6 goals. It obviously isn’t all Rüdiger’s fault but he is at the center of this conundrum.
During Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Manchester City earlier this season former Arsenal player Martin Keown said that Rüdiger is not at the level required to play for Chelsea underlying the defenders nervy nature. Well… I wouldn’t go as far as that because Rüdiger has played for Roma and the German national team and it’s not like he came from a 3rd division club but his acquisition hasn’t had the desired effect thus far.
Chelsea gambled when they signed Rüdiger in that they disrupted an already established solid defensive unit and prevented young players from stepping in and helping the team when necessary.
Can the gamble pay off? Yes, at least it did with David Luiz and Marcos Alonso last season, who were rumoured to not be at the top of Conte’s wish list when they arrived. But could Chelsea have done without Rüdiger and instead opted to give Christiansen and Zouma a chance? Also a big yes.
Written by Brook Genene
Follow Brook on Twitter @brookge
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