Jul 9, 2017
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Antonio Rudiger set to sign for Chelsea – how does he compare to their current defensive options?

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As the Mirror report that Antonio Rudiger’s arrival at Chelsea is set to be announced imminently, he will soon join the likes of Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Kurt Zouma in the defensive ranks at Stamford Bridge.

Tackling

Whilst this stat is a difficult one to compare, what is clear is that Rudiger makes more tackles than many of his new teammates. Whilst Cesar Azpilicueta tops the group with 2.2 tackles per game, Rudiger is not far behind on 1.7 per game, compared to Gary Cahill’s 1.2 and David Luiz’s 1.3.

It’s also worth pointing out an area where Rudiger could face criticism in his high number of fouls. Whilst Luiz and Cahill both conceded 0.9 fouls per game, and Azpilicueta was even lower at 0.7, Rudiger conceded a high 1.6 fouls per game.

For context, even at his most reckless in his first spell at Stamford Bridge, David Luiz only conceded an average of 1.4 fouls per game. The highest in the Premier League last season was Stoke left-back Erik Pieters with 1.7 per game.

Interceptions, clearances and blocks

Again, we can see here that the closest comparison to Rudiger is Cesar Azpilicueta. Azpilicueta recorded 3.1 clearances and 0.3 blocks per game last season, very close to Rudiger’s 3.2 clearances and 0.3 blocks. It is vastly different to Cahill’s 4.8 clearances and 0.5 blocks and Luiz’s 5 clearances and 0.4 blocks per game, perhaps showing how Rudiger could be more of a wide option than a traditional central defender.

However, Rudiger does lag behind in terms of interceptions, with just 0.9 per game compared to an average of 1.7 between the current back three. Given the fast pace of Premier League football, his lack of reading of the game here may be a cause for concern.

Aerial strength

This stat can be interesting to see where Rudiger may fit in to a back three. Given that David Luiz, the central pin in the three man defence won a high percentage of his aerial battles at 60%, Rudiger, who won just 57% of his aerial battles, may be a capable deputy in that position.

However, he is more likely to figure on the right hand side, where Cesar Azpilicueta won just 54% of his aerial duels last season. Gary Cahill is a more extraordinary case given that he won the highest percentage at 63%, but Rudiger will add some strength in the air should Cahill or Luiz be unavailable.

Passing

One of Rudiger’s strongest areas of his game is his ability to start moves from deep. Once again here, we can compare the German to Cesar Azpilicueta. Rudiger recorded three assists last season, whilst the Spaniard recorded four, but both had comparable numbers of key passes with 0.5 and 0.6 respectively.

That will help Antonio Conte to add a new dimension to his side, particularly given that Gary Cahill and David Luiz managed just 0.4 between them, without a single assist. On top of that, Rudiger can be assured on the ball in defence with a respectable 83% pass completion rate.

Experience

This is an area where Rudiger does struggle to compete. With just six Champions League appearances, Rudiger cannot begin to compete with the 117 shared between his new team-mates. Nor does his 17 caps for Germany really compare to the 130 caps shared between the Spanish, English and Brazilian internationals.

Rudiger does have youth on his side though and won his first international title this summer with the Confederations Cup.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Calciomercato Italia.

Article Categories:
Chelsea · Transfers

Sam is a Southend United fan and student based in the South-West. He has previously worked for various publications, including FourFourTwo magazine and ITV. Sam also has an extensive knowledge of Spanish football and has previously lived and worked in Spain. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

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