Rüdiger has joined Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s first summer transfer
The German centre-back left Chelsea at the end of the 2021/22 season to sign a four-year contract with the newly crowned European club champions. Antonio himself won the Champions League with the Blues a year ago, but this spring he lost in the quarterfinals to his future club, who scored early in the second half of the return leg to tie the score at 3-3 on aggregate. Then Chelsea would take the lead, but would lose in extra time.
Curiously, Rüdiger’s goal at the Santiago Bernabeu was his first in his 34th Champions League match, although he has distinguished himself nine times in 133 games in the English Premier League. The powerful Antonio is dangerous on set-pieces and his most memorable goal for Chelsea came two months ago with a long-range strike against Brentford but the memory of his shocking performance was spoilt by the result of that game: the Blues lost 1-4 at Stamford Bridge. Ten days later, Rüdiger scored against Real Madrid, a move to which he is now emboldened:
“I’m proud to announce that I’m moving to Real Madrid. I’m insanely excited about all the challenges that await me. I can’t wait to play my first matches for this great club.
Rüdiger is the 11th German in Real history and the third ex-Chelsea player in the current squad
Antonio will meet several people he knows in Madrid. At Chelsea he caught Courtois and Azar, spent one season together with Thibaut and two with Eden. The Belgian shows himself very differently at Real Madrid, although Hazard promises to improve next season and repay the club and the fans with a good game. We won’t believe it until we check it out. I wonder whose side will Rüdiger choose? By the way, Courtois’ first season at Madrid was also unsuccessful, but there were many objective factors – from coaching turmoil to excessive competition with Keylor Navas. Anyway, we note that ex-Chelsea players usually need time to adapt in Spain.
Not only Azar and Courtois will help Rüdiger but also Toni Kroos with whom the newcomer has played a lot of matches for the German national team. Incidentally, Kroos holds the record for the number of games for Real Madrid, with 364 appearances for the five-time UEFA Champions League winner in a Real Madrid shirt. Rüdiger will be the 11th German player at the Real Madrid club, and usually the Germans are great in Madrid: Netzer, Breitner, Stielke, Schuster, Illgner, Khedira, Ozil were prominent figures at Real Madrid, winning titles.
Rüdiger calls Pepe a role model from his time at Real Madrid
We do not know how quickly Antonio will fit into the Real Madrid squad and what he will achieve at the new club, but he will definitely add brightness and flamboyance to everyday life. A bright guy on and off the field: passionately playing soccer, funny dancing in the locker room and making funny faces during interviews. Such people usually have no problem adapting, and fans love showmen and are willing to forgive their mistakes. Of course, Rüdiger makes mistakes, he is not a perfect defender (are there such things?), but he is never apathetic. He likes to entertain the public with forward passes, loves duels and tough play. Not surprisingly, in last year’s interview Antonio mentioned Pepe:
If I could choose any central defender in history as my teammate and defender, I would definitely choose Pepe. I love the way this guy plays. He’s at his best in every episode and sometimes more motivated than necessary, but that’s the way I like to play as well. I really like Pepe as a footballer, he’s tough. A lot of people see him as just aggressive, but honestly, the way he plays…it’s pure class. And pure fun to watch him.
Rüdiger’s arrival expands Carlo Ancelotti’s options when shaping the defense
With Rüdiger’s arrival, Madrid’s defense seems to be hardly the best in Europe. At least “on paper” and by name. In goal the impenetrable Thibaut Courtois, whose play in the Champions League final and the season as a whole earned him the Lev Yashin Trophy. The Belgian is as far ahead of his rivals as Karim Benzema in the Ballon d’Or list. In the center of defense is the progressive Eder, whose best seasons are yet to come, because the Brazilian is only 24 years old. On the flanks there are sturdy Carvajal and Mendy, and the versatility of Nacho and Alaba glues the defensive structure firmly together.
Marcelo left Madrid at the end of the season, and the arrival of Rüdiger means that David Alaba will now be able to play more frequently at left-back, where he can be more involved in attacks. This option will definitely benefit Real Madrid in matches against deep defensive opponents who were difficult to deal with last season. Rüdiger himself is also the kind of defender who won’t look at another’s goal from seventy yards if his teammates can’t make their way to it.
More than once Antonio picked up the ball and dashed forward, which was a surprise to opponents, he was dangerous on set-pieces, and at the end of other matches he could stay in the position of the center-forward to find a goal in the struggle. The departure of Rüdiger will be a serious loss for Chelsea, as the German was brave on the pitch and his voice was loud in the dressing room. “Real, on the other hand, have strengthened the center of defense without turning inside out or spending billions. They were careful to take an aggressive defender who will try to repeat Pepe’s path.