Tuchel hopes Rudiger stays on for 'toughest challenge' at Chelsea

By Sports Desk November 19, 2021

Thomas Tuchel hopes Antonio Rudiger's Chelsea future will be resolved soon, and believes the Germany international is "up for the toughest challenge."

Rudiger was signed from Roma in 2017, though despite steadily establishing himself as a consistent Premier League performer, looked to be heading for the exit door when he fell out of favour with Frank Lampard in 2020.

A move did not materialise and Rudiger came back into the fold under Lampard before the Chelsea legend was dismissed in January.

Since then, Rudiger has gone from strength to strength under his compatriot Tuchel, playing a key role as the Blues went on to win the Champions League last season.

Yet his future at Stamford Bridge is unclear. The 28-year-old's deal runs out at the end of this season, meaning he will be free to hold talks with clubs from overseas come January 1 – Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have all been linked with the centre-back.

Talks over a new deal are ongoing, though Tuchel warned it is not an easy process.

"It is pretty clear what we want but it is not like this in football that the coach or the club wants something but other things happen," Tuchel said during a news conference ahead of Chelsea's trip to Leicester City on Saturday.

"You have to accept it. Sometimes you can end up in situations where things are at a bit of a delay and things maybe take their time."

Tuchel also thinks Rudiger wants to keep testing himself at the highest level, however, and the former PSG coach believes that means staying in the Premier League.

"I am very sure also that Tony feels respected and knows what an important role he plays in this club," he added.

"I think he's up for the toughest challenge. The toughest challenge is to play Premier League football, to win titles.

"He is a big part of a big club and I am sure that he is aware of it. I am calm, I feel Tony is calm, I feel the situation inside here is calm. From here we go. I am happy that he plays how he plays. We need him on this kind of level."

Rudiger's vital role at Chelsea

So, just how important is Rudiger to Tuchel's system? Firstly, his versatility is a real asset. Capable of playing anywhere across the three-man defence in Tuchel's preferred formation, the former Stuttgart man, who was also deployed as a full-back during his time at Roma, has pace to burn, making him an ideal partner for the slower Thiago Silva, or even Andreas Christensen.

His pace also allows him to cover the left side of defence, where he is most often utilised, enabling Chelsea's left wing-back – either Marcos Alonso or Ben Chilwell, who last month became the first English player to score in four consecutive Premier League games for Chelsea since Frank Lampard in February 2013 – to drive forward.

Since Tuchel's first game in charge on January 27, Chelsea have kept 29 clean sheets in all competitions, eight more than any other team across Europe's top five leagues. Rudiger has featured in 24 of those matches, helping to keep more shut-outs than any other player in Chelsea's squad.

Fifteen of the clean sheets Rudiger has helped to keep have come in the Premier League, with no other player in the competition managing more. Indeed, the only player level in that regard is his club-mate Edouard Mendy, who has been brilliant in goal.

Only Manchester City star Ruben Dias (19) has contributed to more victories than Rudiger (16), whose duel success rate of 61.59 is second only to Silva in Chelsea's pool of defenders. His aerial presence is a threat in both boxes, and he has won 50 out of 70 aerial duels.

He also acts as a ball carrier in Tuchel's team, with only Mateo Kovacic (480) carrying it forward on more occasions, or further than Rudiger's 4,302.8 metres. A carry is defined by Opta as a player travelling with the ball for at least five metres.

Rudiger has missed just eight games in all competitions since Tuchel took over, playing 40 times. The impact on Chelsea's defence is notable. When Rudiger features, Chelsea's average goals against stands at 0.4, compared to 1.0 when he is not in the side.

The Blues win percentage also drops from 65 per cent down to 50 per cent, while their points per game also takes a hit, going from 2.2 to 1.8.

Related items

  • 'We expect greatness from each other' – Mahomes wants improvements despite Chiefs' dominance 'We expect greatness from each other' – Mahomes wants improvements despite Chiefs' dominance

    Patrick Mahomes called for improvements and said the Kansas City Chiefs "expect greatness from each other" despite a record-setting victory over the Denver Broncos.

    The Chiefs cruised past the Broncos 22-9 to collect a franchise record 12th straight victory over Denver, a streak dating back to Week 10 of 2015.

    Kansas City also extended their winning run to five games on Sunday, despite quarterback Mahomes being far from his best.

    The 26-year-old may have rushed for a touchdown on four carries, but he did not throw for a touchdown and was intercepted once on 15-of-29 passing for 184 yards.

    Mahomes - who has already thrown 12 picks this season, as many as in his career-high 2018 campaign – was satisfied after yet another Chiefs win but called for improvements across the field.

    "I think they know, from me and from all of us, and it's the same towards me as well, it's that they just have to be themselves," Mahomes told reporters. 

    "There's nothing they have to do extra. They have the talent, they have the playmaking ability to just continue to go out there and be themselves. I think we'll continue to get better and better. 

    "We're still winning football games. We don't want to get lost in that - we're winning a lot of football games, and we're winning by pretty big margins. 

    "But we expect greatness from each other. We want to continue to get better as an offense and the defense to continue to get better and hopefully create a great football team."

    Mahomes has only thrown for more than 300 yards once in his past six games, while Kansas City have registered over 22 points just once at home this season against the Cleveland Browns.

    In their previous five games, the Chiefs have allowed 17, seven, 14, nine and nine points, having given up 29, 36, 30, 30 and 38 in the team's opening five games. 

    They are the first franchise in NFL history to have a five-game winning run conceding 25-plus points and a five-game victorious streak allowing less than 20 points in the same season, per Stats Perform.

    But 2018 MVP Mahomes insisted all the Chiefs are working on different ways to tighten up plays at both ends, despite Kansas City having an 8-4 record to top AFC West.

    "You figure that when you get to, hopefully, the playoffs and kind of try to make a run that guys are going to try to take away those two guys," he added. 

    "We'll do our best job of still trying to get them open, scheming them open in different ways. 

    "But other guys are going to have to step up, and this week it was running backs out of the backfield. Next week, it might be other receivers, it might be different tight ends. I think we have the guys to do it, we just have to continue to go out there and do it."

  • Jackson takes blame after costly failed two-point conversion in Ravens loss Jackson takes blame after costly failed two-point conversion in Ravens loss

    Lamar Jackson blamed himself for not executing the pass for a two-point conversion that would have seen the Baltimore Ravens edge past the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Baltimore attempted the two-point conversion after Jackson had led the Ravens to a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining, only for the 24-year-old's throw to narrowly miss Mark Andrews' fingertips in the endzone.

    The Steelers therefore squeezed to a 20-19 victory, snapping a two-game losing streak after being inspired by Ben Roethlisberger, who threw two fourth-down touchdowns on Sunday.

    But 2019 MVP Jackson, whose 60-yard drive during the closing two minutes set up a tantalising conclusion, bemoaned his lack of cutting edge as Baltimore opted for the winner-takes-all two-pointer as opposed to kicking for a point.

    "I was in the moment," Jackson told reporters. "We just scored. I was cool with it. I wanted to win. I didn't want to go to overtime anyway.

    "T.J. Watt's got range. He's a long guy. I had to throw around him and try to make something happen. That's all, I just came up short.

    "We're just not finishing. We're always one play away. When we get down in the red zone, we've just got to fix that. We've just got to get in the lab and find ways to keep our drives going, try not to have sacks.

    "I'm very confident. You saw the last drive. We were rolling, hitting passes, guys running their routes, catching the ball and getting YAC. We just do that consistently, we'll be fine. We just have to do it early and finish the whole game like that."

    Jackson continues to be Baltimore's main outlet, once again making eight carries for 55 yards as the Ravens' lead rusher.

    But the quarterback's passing was slightly off, throwing an avoidable pick in Baltimore's opening drive while he has now been sacked an already career-high 37 times in 11 starts this season, compared to the last when he suffered just 29 in four more starts.

    Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, though, believes his team and coaching staff need to do more to protect Jackson.

    "We can put him in a better position too in terms of getting the ball out quick with some of those calls," Harbaugh added. "Seven sacks is too many. It's way too many. That's on us as a coaching staff to get that cleaned up."

    The Ravens (8-4), despite the loss, still lead the AFC North by one game as they next prepare to face the Cleveland Browns (6-6).

  • Rumour Has It: Liverpool plan move for Napoli's Spain international Fabian Ruiz Rumour Has It: Liverpool plan move for Napoli's Spain international Fabian Ruiz

    Liverpool are in the market to add depth and quality to their midfield.

    The Reds are currently second in the Premier League, after four straight wins.

    Liverpool have scored a Premier League-high 44 goals in 15 games.



    Liverpool want to sign Napoli's Spain international Fabian Ruiz next off-season to bolster their midfield, reports Fichajes.

    The Reds view the 25-year-old as an ideal player on an upward trajectory in his career.

    Georginio Wijnaldum exited Liverpool for Paris Saint-Germain last off-season with no obvious replacement added.



    - Fichajes reports that Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Ajax's Argentinean left-back Nicolas Tagliafico.

    - Milan are interested in Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic and Real Madrid's Luka Jovic as they look to add depth to their squad reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

    - Inter are tracking FC Zurich's 20-year-old Switzerland international defender Becir Omeragic claims Calciomercato.

    - The Athletic reports that Southampton will sign ex-Chelsea and Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero as emergency cover. Caballero, 40, is a free agent.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.