Pundit Garth Crooks has praised Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger and put him in his Team of the Season.
The Lowdown: Leaving on a High
The German international has been ever-present at the Blues this season, starting 34 out of 38 league matches and only goalkeeper Edouard Mendy having more minutes.
The 29-year-old averaged a SofaScore rating of 7.11, which is the seventh-highest of any player at Chelsea to have made more than 10 league appearances.
However, the former Roma centre back is leaving Stamford Bridge this summer, with his contract expiring and having already agreed a deal to join Real Madrid. He announced his exit in a letter published in The Players’ Tribune.
The Latest: Garth Crooks Reacts
“It didn’t take me long to realise that Chelsea had bought a gem. Antonio Rudiger seemed as though he was born to play at Stamford Bridge,” Crooks said.
“He is one of the few genuine warriors left in the game and the perfect replacement for Sergio Ramos – which is probably why he finds himself leaving for Real Madrid.”
The Verdict: Will be Missed
The Berlin-born stopper is fifth for Chelsea in tackles and interceptions, second for clearances, and third for blocks this campaign, as per FBRef.
He is also in the top 10% for all Premier League centre backs in progressive passes, goal-creating actions, and carries.
The Stuttgart Academy graduate will be difficult to replace for the west London club, and that is before we consider his attributes off the pitch, as highlighted by teammate Mason Mount after Sunday’s game against Watford.
“What a guy he is. A top, top guy.
“On the pitch with him, you look around and see the fire in his eyes. He wants to compete. He’s there behind you if there’s something that happens, he’s straight there to back your teammates.”
He has also been lauded as an “animal” by BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand.
Considering everything he brought to the club, Chelsea must surely be making his replacement a priority this summer.