Three players Chelsea can replace Antonio Rudiger with
Antonio Rudiger to leave Chelsea?
There is perhaps no player to have benefited more from Thomas Tuchel’s arrival at Chelsea than Antonio Rudiger.
The German was a bit-part player under Frank Lampard and didn’t appear to have much of a future in west London.
Almost as soon as Tuchel arrived, though, Rudiger was thrust back into the starting line-up and has not looked back.
One of the main strengthens of Tuchel’s Chelsea is – barring their recent 3-2 loss to West Ham – their ability to keep it tight at the back.
That loss to West Ham would be just the 3rd time in Tuchel’s tenure at the club that Chelsea have shipped more than one goal.
And no one has – apart from perhaps Edouard Mendy – contributed more to that superb record than Rudiger.
The 28-year-old has been by far and away Chelsea’s most impressive, consistent centre-back over the last 10 months.
However, Rudiger’s current Chelsea deal is set to expire at the end of this season, meaning he can sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs as early as January to depart on a free next year.
And recent reports suggest that could indeed happen, with Rudiger’s agent said to have an informal agreement in place with Spanish powerhouse, Real Madrid:
Exclusive: Antonio Rudiger is moving closer to leaving Chelsea as a free agent next summer.
His brother, who is also his agent, has an informal agreement in place with Real Madrid.
A meeting with Bayern Munich was also held last week. #cfc https://t.co/oBvieCTKR6
— Tom Kershaw (@trlkershaw) December 7, 2021
Three players who can replace Rudiger at Chelsea
So, with Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta now in the twilight of their careers and both also, at the time of writing, out of contract in the summer, it is fair to say that Chelsea will probably need to bring in some extra legs at the back very soon.
But who should they target? Replacing someone of Rudiger’s quality is no easy task, but 101 have taken a look at three potential options below.
Jules Kounde, Sevilla
The first and most obvious option is that of Sevilla’s Jules Kounde.
Chelsea were heavily linked with a move for Kounde during the summer window but no deal was ultimately forthcoming, with reports late in August hinting that Sevilla demanded more cash than the capital outfit were willing to pay.
But with Chelsea’s need for a central defender growing and Kounde continuing to impress, it would make sense for the 23-year-old to be targeted again in the near future.
Kounde has so far made 18 appearances for the Spanish outfit this season and is a key reason why they currently boast the best defence in La Liga.
Pau Torres, Villarreal
Sticking with Spain, another La Liga centre-back Chelsea should look to replace Rudiger with is Pau Torres.
Torres was seemingly a target of Chelsea’s London rivals, Tottenham, this past summer, but the player himself revealed he turned down a move as the lure of playing in the Champions League with Villarreal was too much.
This season, though, Villarreal are sat 13th in La Liga and seem unlikely to qualify for the CL once again. Could this make a move for Torres much easier for a Chelsea side who are almost certainly set to play in Europe’s most coveted club competition next year?
Torres would certainly be a solid addition to Thomas Tuchel’s side. The 23-year-old is well suited to playing with the ball at his feet, but also adds a physical presence to his team, much like Rudiger.
And, as Rudiger generally operates on the left side of Tuchel’s back-three, it is probably a big plus that Torres is a natural left-footer.
The final player Chelsea may wish to sign is Alessio Romagnoli.
The Italian is currently plying his trade with AC Milan, but is out of contract in the summer – meaning he could be a perfect option for Chelsea should they not wish to spend too much on a Rudiger replacement.
Romagnoli is probably not as fast as Rudiger and is unlikely to replicate the marauding runs the former Roma man often makes from deep for the Blues.
However, the 26-year-old is an experienced, powerful presence who will likely bring leadership to Chelsea’s backline – something they may need greatly if some or all of Rudiger, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta do not sign new deals soon.