Today Chelsea moved a step closer to completing their first significant transfer of the summer. Reports have been circulating for over a week now of the club’s interest in AS Roma centre back Antonio Rüdiger. The deal looks to have neared closer to completion as reports suggest that the German defender is to undergo his medical in Los Angeles, where he is holidaying after his involvement in his country’s Confederations Cup win in Russia.
With a fee rising up to £34m agreed the transfer would mark the club ramping up their transfer activity after a frustrating summer so far. Rüdiger has been playing in Serie A for the past two seasons clocking up 56 appearances in a Roma team that finished runner up behind the ever rampant Juventus and has 17 caps for World Champions Germany. In a market where John Stones moved to Man City for £50m last summer and clubs are being quoted £70m for Virgil Van Dijk, the figure represents great value in an ever exorbitant market.
Fans will now start to wonder where Rüdiger could fit in to a title winning Chelsea side. Although primarily a centre back Rüdiger has also played right-back in the past for club and country, which could suggest he will provide competition for Cesar Azpilicueta’s berth on the right of a back three. This could potentially free up Azpilicueta to play the right wing-back role, should Conte look to adopt a more defensive outlook or rest Victor Moses. His most obvious quality is his size and the dominant presence he can provide at the back, although he is by no means cumbersome. Pep Guardiola’s reported interest in hijacking the deal also hints at the defender’s ability to play the ball sufficiently to fit in to a Guardiola side. Despite Rüdiger’s large frame, he is 6 ft 3in, he is relatively nimble and has the pace to deal with runners in to his channel. At 24 years of age there is plenty of potential still to unlock and he can only learn from the experienced heads of Gary Cahill and David Luiz, which makes his fee look even better value.
Let’s hope that this is the first arrival of many quality additions and can kick-start a productive transfer window for the club.