Antonio Rudiger is the Chelsea joker loved by fans and labelled ‘best in the Premier League’ by Manchester United legend


From trying to make Eden Hazard stay on live TV to dancing around a stadium on crutches – Antonio Rudiger is quite the character.

The Chelsea defender is loved by fans for sprinting back from corners as though his life depended on it and charging into the opposition half with similar gusto.

Rudiger has been key to Chelsea’s recent success

Getty

Rudiger has been key to Chelsea’s recent success

The Blues star is one of football’s liveliest personalities

BT Sport

The Blues star is one of football’s liveliest personalities

And he’s popular among his teammates for his larger-than-life personality.

Every Chelsea trophy since Rudiger’s arrival in 2017 seems to have been followed by a video of the defender cutting some rather unusual shapes in the changing room.

After the 2018 FA Cup triumph, Rudiger shouted ‘Eden Hazard stays’ during a joint-interview with the former Blues idol, who actually ended up staying that summer.

Being injured for the 2019 Europa League final didn’t stop Rudiger partying on crutches after dancing round the stadium on the back of a Chelsea staff member.

And his questionable dance moves were on show yet again as Chelsea celebrated their recent Champions League and Super Cup successes, with Rudiger leading every celebration.

It’s that same energy off the pitch which makes him a fierce leader on it – and for talkSPORT host Adrian Durham, there aren’t many better players in world football right now.

“If you watch Rudiger, week in week out, you see him defending 100 per cent solid and reliable,” he said.

“You see him coming out with the ball, he’s courageous on the ball, he comes charging out, it’s a joy to watch.

“Is he a big part of a winning side? Yes. They’re top of the table, having conceded half the number of goals Liverpool had.

“And did he keep Mo Salah quiet when Chelsea played Liverpool? Yes he did. Salah scored a penalty and with ten men Chelsea defended superbly.

“Who is the best centre-half in the Premier League? It’s not Virgil van Dijk. For me, it’s Rudiger. He’s a player reborn.

“Right now, I can’t see a better footballer in his position.”

Rudiger’s injury did not stop him celebrating their Europa League win

GETTY

Rudiger’s injury did not stop him celebrating their Europa League win

And he’s not alone. Legendary Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes the Chelsea star has been the Premier League’s best defender in recent months.

He said: “Since Tuchel has come, I think he’s arguably been the best centre-back.

“I think him and Dias would have been close but the effect he has had on his team has been immense.

“Under Frank [Lampard], it was evident he wasn’t Frank’s cup of tea. He didn’t really like him. There were rumours there were trying to put him in the market to be sold.

“In Germany, he’s always been highly thought of. But when the manager doesn’t rate you and you can feel that, I don’t care who you are your confidence takes a beating and it’s hard to perform at that level.”

Rudiger is constantly joking around with his teammates

BT Sport

Rudiger is constantly joking around with his teammates

However, despite his outstanding quality and popularity, Chelsea could lose Rudiger for free next summer.

The 28-year-old is out of contract and available on a free transfer next summer as things stand.

He is allowed to negotiate with foreign clubs in January, having rejected an offer worth £125,000-a-week at Stamford Bridge.

Madrid are looking for a new centre-back after losing Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos before the 2021/22 campaign.

And according to Marca, the Spanish giants intend to open talks with Rudiger when the winter window opens.

One thing’s for sure, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel won’t be the only person gutted if he leaves.

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