Will Thomas Tuchel keep faith with Antonio Rudiger after bust-up?
Antonio Rudiger was not in Frank Lampard’s plans and has now had a bust-up with Kepa Arrizabalaga at training… the spiky defender is Chelsea’s biggest dressing room personality – but will the club keep him on after latest ill-tempered outburst?
- Antonio Rudiger is once again in the headlines after a training ground bust-up
- The German defender clashed with keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga on Easter Sunday
- Rudiger earlier this year denied he had any role in Frank Lampard being sacked
- His contract at Stamford Bridge runs out next year and club must make decision
Despite not being on the pitch as Chelsea fell to a shocking 5-2 defeat to West Brom on Saturday, Antonio Rudiger has once again attracted some unwanted attention.
Having been benched for the match, the defender was dismissed from training the next day after his manager deemed that he had lost control of his emotions in a heated bust-up with goalkeeper Kepa.
Thomas Tuchel is facing his first real test since he arrived in London, with it also being reported that Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James clashed straight after the match.
Antonio Rudiger was dismissed from training after a bust-up with goalkeeper Kepa on Sunday
Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta also clashed after Chelsea’s 5-2 defeat to West Brom
Life under Tuchel could barely have been better over the last couple of months for the Blues’ players.
A long unbeaten run, an impressive two-legged defeat of Atletico Madrid, and a defence which had conceded just two Premier League goals under their new boss.
That had been equalled within 45 minutes against West Brom, and more than doubled by the time Chelsea’s ten-men finally heard the full-time whistle.
And now Tuchel must find a way to bring back the good feeling in the camp, after tensions boiled over when Kepa reacted badly to a late challenge from Rudiger defender in a small-sided game.
The German international has been one of Chelsea’s best performers since the new manager came in, but has now been benched for two of his side’s last three league matches having previously started eight in a row under Tuchel and not for the first time has been at the centre of reports of disharmony amongst the squad.
Rudiger has impressed under Thomas Tuchel and has been a regular since he took charge
Last summer Chelsea tried unsuccessfully to move the player on and with his contract running out at Stamford Bridge at the end of next season, a decision over his future can not be put off much longer.
Rudiger spoke positively about Tuchel back in February, with comments that some took as a slight dig at former boss Frank Lampard.
‘The most important impression he’s made is that he knows what he wants,’ Rudiger said told Sky Germany.
‘He has his way of playing football, which is positive for many players.’
The 28-year-old would have been more grateful than most for the fresh start both on and off the pitch in recent months.
The German defender denied reports that he played a role in getting Frank Lampard sacked
Rudiger started just four league matches under the Englishman this season, and faced criticism from Chelsea fans online after it was reported he played a significant role in Lampard’s departure.
The German hit back at these rumours, insisting he fully supported his former manager and played no part in him being sacked.
‘If I was so anti-Lampard, why would I have been on the pitch under him in his last games?,’ Rudiger told SportBILD.
‘It doesn’t make sense. Frank Lampard is very well respected in the club and by the fans.
‘The perception that I was against the coach has more to do with the time around the start of the season when I wasn’t in the squad.’
Rudiger’s intensity can aid his team on the pitch but can also lead to confrontations off it
It is clear that Rudiger has a fiery and outspoken nature, and an aggression on the pitch that has earned him wide praise for his performances recently.
It’s an honesty that has been on full show in the past. After Chelsea fell to 3-0 defeat to Roma in the Champions League in 2017, Rudiger admitted his side pretty much gave up by half time.
‘You can lose, but in a proper way, we gave up after the 2-0.’ he said after the match.
The 28-year-old was outspoken in 2017 when he claimed Chelsea gave up when losing to Roma
‘We didn’t believe in it [coming back], the minds were down, the heads were down, a really disappointing evening.’
The Chelsea fans may appreciate this honesty, but while his combative nature may be accepted when the side are winning, it is evident his team-mates can get frustrated by it when things are not going so well.
A similar incident to his bust-up with Kepa occurred in 2018 when on international duty with Germany ahead of the World Cup.
Rudiger and Joshua Kimmich squared up after the Bayern Munich man took exception to a strong challenge from the defender. The Chelsea player is not one for half measures.
Luis Suarez and Rudiger battled in the Champions League with the defender coming out on top
That intensity is no bad thing when used well, as it was when Rudiger marked Luis Suarez out of the game in the Champions League last 16 tie.
Thomas Tuchel must decide whether he can harness his defender’s personality successfully, to his and Chelsea’s benefit, and if so negotiations over a new contract for the player must begin soon.
But the Blues manager may decide the risk of further flare-ups is not one he’s willing to take, leaving the club needing to find a buyer for Rudiger in a summer taken up by the delayed Euros, or risk losing the player for free next year.
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