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Antonio Rüdiger, Real Madrid’s new defensive muscle


More shrewd transfer business for Real Madrid led to yesterday’s presentation of one of the finest centre-backs around with the German international destined to improve the current squad. The player arrives from Chelsea, after letting his contract run down, as is being seen more and more frequently in the game. The risk involved in this strategy is that it exposes players to the misfortune of a serious injury with no assured future (as was the case with former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes). The policy does ensure, (assuming they evade serious injury), to choose a destination and demand a competitive salary. This is the way David Alaba arrived at Real Madrid, and despite Rüdiger being an excellent ball player (perhaps not with the same dexterity as Alaba), the German has an imposing presence and the strength of the Osborne bull.

Antonio Rudiger
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Antonio Rudiger Europa Press SportsGetty

Defensive supermen

I do like this brand of centre-back, players with power, who are not afraid to break forward with the ball and would prefer a rear guard with players in this mould over the Eric Garcia model. For some it may be an archaic vision of the art of defending, but I like the centre-back who is an out and out stopper, strong in the air and can use his body strength to bully strikers off the ball. Spanish football has enjoyed the defensive duo of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Piqué in recent times. Two iconic centre-backs with both players comfortable on the ball and both accustomed to defending with plenty of space behind them, with both being able to track back and cover that space with speed. Two defensive supermen.

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Talent for the new season

I see Antonio Rüdiger as a member of that school of player and his presence in the Madrid team could perhaps displace Alaba to left-back where Mendy too is another solid option. Alaba has much more class to collaborate with the attack when going forward, and in fact that was the position that made him great at Bayern. We also need to remember that Marcelo is no longer at the club. A Madridista asked me a few days ago whether Alaba, now in his thirties, would have the engine to maurade along the flank in seasons that are getting ever longer for players. In any case, in the absence of Mbappé, Real Madrid have shored up other departments on the pitch with the acquisitions of Tchouameni and Rüdiger, with both players considerably improving the squad ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.