By, Navaneeth Ravichandran (Twitter: @navrav28)
Chelsea recently announced today the signing of 24-year old German defender Antonio Rudiger from Serie A side AS Roma. There are discrepancies in the fee depending on which outlet you choose to believe, but it is believed to be around 30 million pounds, plus an additional 4 million pounds in performance related add-ons. This represents Chelsea’s second signing of the summer transfer window, succeeding Willy Caballero’s arrival. Rudiger spent the past two seasons with the Italian club, and just a few weeks ago won the Confederations Cup with the German National team. After watching him in that tournament and doing some research, here is a scouting report I have compiled on the brand new Chelsea defender.
The main strength that Rudiger possesses is his versatility. Antonio Conte’s preferred formation includes 3 central defenders, and Rudiger can play in all three positions (his preferred location is left center back, currently occupied by Gary Cahill). Not only that, but he can also be deployed as a right wing back, giving Victor Moses some healthy competition at that position. With European football again on the schedule, depth and versatility are both key assets for a successful squad, and Rudiger will help make Conte’s decisions easier.
Above Average Passing Ability
Chelsea fans last season grew accustomed to watching David Luiz nail forwards with pinpoint long balls from the back. Should he ever need a rest, we don’t have to worry about those long balls disappearing. In Serie A competition last year, Rudiger completed 185 long ball completions. That was the most out of any qualified defender in Italy. The following video showcases Rudiger’s capability. His passing ability is highlighted from 3:54 onwards. Take a look at some of the balls he plays, and the locations on the pitch he plays them from. No matter where the gaffer chooses to play him whether it’s in the center of the pitch, the left, or the right, Rudiger manages to find his man almost every time.
Limited Goalscoring Ability
In 35 games across all competitions last season with Roma, Rudiger failed to score a single goal. Obviously, scoring goals isn’t a significant job requirement for a central defender, but secondary scoring is a welcome resource to have at times. Don’t look to Rudiger to provide that scoring.
For a central defender, Rudiger possesses outstanding speed and power. With him at the back, Roma had the freedom to play a high backline, owing to the fact that if any balls were to make it behind the defence, Rudiger would be quick to catch up. Oh, and as the following instagram post from Roma shows, Rudiger is built like a tank. He’ll definitely be able to make the transition from manhandling Serie A strikers to manhandling Premier League strikers.
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There are some on social media who aren’t completely happy with the signing. It may even be you, reading this article. Just know that when it comes to transfers, the ultimate indicator of whether a transfer was a smart move or not is time. When David Luiz came back to Chelsea last season, many scoffed at that piece of business, calling it a panic buy. A similar sentiment was echoed with Marcos Alonso. He wasn’t seen as a player that should be playing for a big club like Chelsea. And yet, both of those two are now integral parts of the Chelsea fabric. Rudiger may not be the big money signing like a Van Dijk, a Bonucci, or god forbid a Lukaku. But Manchester United showed us last year that spending a lot of money on a player doesn’t always translate to success. I personally love this transfer. Rudiger is the perfect player for an Antonio Conte system and mentality. I look forward to cheering him in blue.
Thumbnail image courtesy of: The Guardian
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