With Chelsea possibly set to call time on captain John Terry’s Stamford Bridge career this summer whilst coming to terms with a miserable mid-table finish, a summer overhaul seems guaranteed to take place and a top quality central defender is likely to be top of new manager Antonio Conte’s wanted list.
One man linked with filling that void is Antonio Rüdiger with Conte said to be keen on the 23 year old who is currently on loan at Roma from Stuttgart. He has impressed at the Italian club, who are also said to be keen on signing him on a permanent deal.
Chelsea may need to stump up in excess of £20 million to secure his signature, which is unlikely to be a problem for the Londoners but without the lure of any form of European football next season, they may have a harder time landing their targets.
Far from traditional
Rüdiger is far from a traditional centre-half and is anything but a like-for-like swap for John Terry. The athletic German is very comfortable on the ball and has displayed he has more than a few tricks up his sleeve particularly when featuring as a right-back or even right winger which he has done once this season.
He has an eye for a pass and doesn’t shy away from playing precision longer balls out of defence to try and create opportunities for his teammates at the other end of the pitch.
At 190 cm tall and with a muscular physique, he cuts an imposing figure too, which suggests he could cut it in the physical Premier League. He has played in the Champions League this season for Roma and has 9 caps for Germany so he does have top level experience but is still a work in progress you sense and certainly has areas of his game which he needs to develop.
Unrealistic Terry fill-in
John Terry’s boots are going to be hard for anyone to fill and to bring in Rüdiger with the sole intention of doing that would be unrealistic. Paired with the right partner Rüdiger could be a great long-term signing but you have to question who that man is going to be.
Kurt Zouma has shown great promise but it’s surely too soon for Chelsea to put their faith in Rüdiger and Zouma, both in their early 20s, as their principal central defenders for next season. Gary Cahill hasn’t had a great campaign and hasn’t really done enough to suggest he’s the man to step up and become the principal figurehead for Chelsea’s back four.
So it’s quite hard to see how Chelsea are going to get the balance right if they sign Rüdiger unless they bring in another experienced, top quality centre-back, which could be tough given they don’t have European football to offer.
Ironically John Terry of a couple of years ago would have been the perfect complement to Rüdiger, who possesses some of the attributes that the Englishman lacks but is weak in areas where he is strong.
Not there yet
Antonio Rüdiger is the sort of player that fans really take to for the way he plays the game and has all the attributes to one day develop into a truly outstanding centre-back but he is not there yet.
If Antonio Conte has his heart set on really building for the long-term he’d be a good signing for Chelsea but as a quick fix for a defence that has been leaking goals, the Italian might need to look elsewhere.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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