After multiple failed moves on deadline day, Antonio Rudiger is set to spend at least half a season with the Blues at least until January. Until then, what’s next for Antonio Rudiger? A transfer away, or possible redemption?
After a very disappointing and an overall abysmal end to the 2019/20 campaign for Antonio Rudiger, the German international saw himself replaced at the beginning of this season. The defender hasn’t featured for the Blues at all this season, and seemingly isn’t in the plans of Frank Lampard for this season, despite Frank’s assurances that everyone will have a role to play.
Rudiger has only made the bench twice this season, firstly against Brighton on the opening Premier League game week, and the second coming in the midweek game against Sevilla. The first one was down to the absence of Thiago Silva and the second one was due to the increased allowance of substitutes in Champions League games. This clearly shows that Antonio appears to be a forgotten man amongst the Chelsea ranks, so let’s take a look into why the German has fallen out of favour for the Blues.
The start of the decline
The end of last season was dire for Rudiger, although with Chelsea’s lack of depth at Centre Back, he kept his place throughout. The German returned from an injury after playing with the U23s for a few games and made his return to the side against French side Lille in a Champions League game which saw the Blues win 2-1. This then followed a mixed run in the side which featured wins against Spurs and Arsenal, but losses against Southampton and Bournemouth.
Obviously coming back from a fairly long time out was always going to be difficult for Antonio, but when he came back, he looked a shadow of his former self. This involved defending lethargically and arrogantly which really didn’t work out for him, despite his supposed ‘hustle’. The German became extremely error-prone, with his most notable mistakes coming against West Ham, Newcastle, and Sheffield United.
The mistake against West Ham was one that really turned Chelsea fans against Rudiger. Not only was he partially at fault for West Ham’s second goal in the 3-2 loss as he fouled Michael Antonio in the build-up and then allowed him to run past him, but the winner for West Ham was a piece of calamitous defending from Rudiger. He showed Yarmalenko onto his strong foot to cut inside rather than show him outside, and then left him completely free and unchallenged to score the winner.
The game against Sheffield United which saw the Blues lose 3-0 was another game to forget for Rudiger. Despite only coming on at half time after an injury to Andreas Christensen, there was still enough time for the German to make a hatful of errors. Throughout the game, he was beaten several times by Oli McBurnie and his fellow Sheffield attackers. To make matters worse, he also managed to set up the final goal for Sheffield when the ball came across him and Rudiger decided to slide tackle an uncontested ball straight into the path of the Sheffield attacker to hammer the nail into the Chelsea coffin.
These mistakes are likely to be a key reason why the defender has not featured at all this season for Chelsea. So what next for Rudiger? He clearly doesn’t seem to be in Lampard’s plans, so therefore he has two options: 1) He trains incredibly hard and somehow gets back to his old, dominant self that we saw in 2017/18; or; 2) works his way out of the club in January (if possible). During the end of the summer transfer window, there was a lot of interest in Rudiger. This interest included clubs from both the Premier League (e.g. Tottenham and West Ham), as well as Italy’s Serie A (AC Milan and Roma).
Unfortunately for Rudiger, he was not able to cement a move away from the Bridge and as a result, he could be a forgotten man by the time the January transfer window comes along. With his contract set to expire in the summer of 2022, Chelsea will be looking to move him on soon (if he does not work his way back into selection) as they do not want to lose him on a free in a couple of years time.
Final Thoughts – Rudiger or Rudiout?
Realistically Rudiger has become the fifth choice Centre Back at Chelsea. With this, it is looking likely that he will not make a return to the side again (barring a dramatic set of injuries). With the addition of veteran defender Thiago Silva and the rise of Kurt Zouma, the German defender is left behind both these two and also the growing Fikayo Tomori and even Andreas Christensen.
If Rudiger is to make it back into the Chelsea first team, he is seriously going to have to impress Frank Lampard who seems to have found his preferred partnership in Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva, particularly as they are the only partnership to have kept a clean sheet for the Blues this season. Alongside the acquisition of Eduard Mendy, the Chelsea defence is starting to tighten up from last season, and for me, this could spell the end for Antonio Rudiger.
Obviously, nothing is set in stone. He could possibly get a run of games in the first team due to injury or another circumstance that could play him back into the plans for the season. However, given the fact that he appears to be fifth in the pecking order, and Chelsea having other emerging defenders out on loan such as Malang Sarr and Ethan Ampadu, it does look like Rudiger’s four-year stint with the Blues may be coming to an end.
What would you do if you were Frank Lampard? Would you take a chance on bringing the mistake-prone defender back into the side on the basis that he could regain his past form, or, would you move him on and focus on your other available options?
Let us know below or on our Twitter page (@SW6Daily)!
Written By: Ben (@carefreecfc20)
Edited By: Ross-John (RJ) Bonaccorsi (@RJ_Goodthings)