Why it wouldn’t make sense for Real Madrid to sign Antonio Rüdiger
The 2022 summer will be huge for Real Madrid. There will be signings, and plenty. Nonetheless, it appears the club will mostly be interested in free agents, and considering those that will be available, it makes so much sense.
You must have heard of Kylian Mbappé and Paul Pogba, two players from France who are on Madrid’s radar; the former in particular. By 1 July 2022, they will be without contracts, which will open the club an incredible opportunity to acquire them. Another player that has been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabéu in recent months, albeit not French, is Antonio Rüdiger.
Rüdiger, who went through a difficult period under Frank Lampard with Chelsea last season, has been rejuvenated since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival at the London-based club, growing into a vital player for them. This season, only Edouard Mendy has enjoyed as many minutes as the German centre-back in the Premier League and the Champions League with The Blues, which clearly proves he has been indispensable for the reigning European champions.
But why does Tuchel use him so much, and even hesitates to rest him? Chelsea play with a back three, with which the 28-year-old excels as a left-sided centre-back. His ball-progression ability really stands out in their system, one of the several reasons Tuchel loves him. But that’s not it. Rüdiger is a highly physical and aggressive defender, like Sergio Ramos used to be for Real Madrid.
It’s not that Chelsea’s defence severely struggles without him, but they don’t have a centre-back that can make a greater impact on that left side. What Rüdiger offers to his team, whether it’s in possession or out of possession, is hard to replace. For their football, he is essential, hence they will be gutted to see him walk away for free next summer.
If he’s so skilled and important for arguably the best team on the planet, though, what doesn’t make my claim ridiculous? First and foremost, his age. By July next summer, Rüdiger will be 29 years, so clearly Madrid won’t be signing a particularly young player; which the ageing squad needs. You will say, “but we signed David Alaba for free this summer at the same age and you weren’t against it”. True, but in Alaba we signed a versatile player, a leader which we needed given Sergio Ramos’ departure, and a proven player in a back four system.
Which brings me to my second point. Before Tuchel came in and flipped Chelsea’s system on its head, Rüdiger operated in a back four, and wasn’t particularly great. Not great enough for Madrid to consider him at least. While he might have worked on areas of his game to become one of the best centre-backs in the world, I see him as a system player, which makes me doubt he’d manage to replicate his level of performances at Chelsea here. Not to mention he has a history of being inconsistent.
Thirdly, his wage demands. There’s a reason Chelsea are willing to let arguably their most important footballer walk away for free, and it’s due to the wages he would want to renew with them. According to Marca, that could actually be a factor that makes the club lose interest in him, as they believe the net €12 million he is asking for is too much while they don’t see him at the height of Alaba.
In conclusion, it simply doesn’t make sense for Madrid to sign Rüdiger. He is not young, the level of his performances before Tuchel’s appointment were not Madrid-level and while we wouldn’t have to pay Chelsea for his signature, he wouldn’t come for cheap. For the centre-back position, I would prefer younger players such as Pau Torres or even Matthijs de Ligt if possible, even if that meant having to bid to get them in.