Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell has claimed that Antonio Rudiger will be difficult to replace at Stamford Bridge after the centre-back sealed a move to Real Madrid this summer.
Rudiger, who joined Los Blancos on a free transfer last month, established himself as one of the best central defenders during his five-year stint with the Blues. The 29-year-old featured in a mammoth 54 matches during the 2021-22 campaign, registering five goals and four assists in the process.
Speaking to The Guardian, Chilwell lauded his former team-mate, claiming Rudiger was influential both on and off the pitch. He said:
“Of course, he’s going to be difficult to replace. Toni was one of the most influential players in the team last year, not just for his performances on the pitch, which were amazing week in, week out.”
“Around the training ground, then the dressing room before games making sure that everyone keeps their standards – I’ve only got good things to say about Toni. I think Chelsea will always have a place in his heart. But it was probably a dream for him to move to Madrid so good luck to him.”
Chilwell played alongside Rudiger at Chelsea for two seasons, winning the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup together.
Overall, Rudiger won five trophies after joining the Blues from Serie A outfit AS Roma for a fee of £29 million in the summer of 2017. He featured in 202 matches for the London club, scoring 12 goals and providing seven assists along the way.
Chelsea aim for defensive reinforcements this summer
To fill the voids left by the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, the Blues are currently in the market for a high-profile centre-back. Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso are also on their way out of the club with Barcelona interested in the pair, as per MARCA.
According to The Telegraph, Chelsea are in negotiations with five defenders in the ongoing transfer window. Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Manchester City’s Nathan Ake, Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, and PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe are all reportedly on the club’s radar.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are also in the pursuit of Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard (via Sky Sports), Atletico Madrid’s Jose Maria Gimenez (via Tenfield) and Torino’s Gleison Bremer (via 90min).
The Blues will begin their 2022-23 Premier League season away from home at Everton on August 6.