Antonio Rudiger is set to leave Chelsea this summer and join Real Madrid on a free transfer. One of the best center-backs in the world, Rudiger will be hard to replace for Chelsea. The German defender arrived in from Roma and won a Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, and Club World Cup as member of the Blues.
Now, it is time for the London club to replace the tall defender. There are a lot of options on the market, so it is just about picking the best one. To help them, here are the three best Antonio Rudiger replacements Chelsea must sign in the 2022 summer transfer window.
Antonio Rudiger replacements for Chelsea in 2022 transfer window
3. Maxence Lacroix
If Chelsea want to go really young, then French center-back Maxence Lacroix from Wolfsburg is an option. He is not all that experienced, nor is he an international player yet, but he is definitely one that catches attention. Lacroix arrived at Wolfsburg in August 2020 and, since then, has made 59 league appearances for the former champions of Germany. He has not won anything or had any success worth mentioning with the team, but at 22 years of age, the whole world is ahead of the young Frenchman.
In terms of player fit, however, the situation is a bit different. Lacroix shares some of the qualities of the next players on this list, most notably speed, but he is not as calm and collected on the ball. Lacroix is more of a physical defender, one who will look to use his speed and strength to dominate attackers. The problem there is that the EPL is much tougher than the German or French leagues, so it might be a challenge.
Additionally, Chelsea will be looking for a ball-playing defender, and Lacroix does not fit that bill. Still, it would be worth looking at him and possibly molding Lacroix to be the replacement for Silva in the future.
2. Pau Torres
Chelsea should definitely look at Pau Torres, Villarreal’s young Spanish center-back. Torres is 25, and he has been part of Villarreal since 2002, making his professional debut in 2017. In his three full seasons for Villarreal, as he did spend a year on loan at Malaga, Torres played 102 league games and made 134 appearances altogether, being an integral part of the Yellow Submarine’s run to the Champions League semifinals. Additionally, during his Villarreal spell, he also became a Spanish international, making 19 appearances for the Spanish national team.
When it comes to playstyle, Chelsea would most likely want to exploit the fact that Torres is a classic Spanish center-back, one who does not shy away from holding the ball. Torres is generally very comfortable passing and holding possession and does not make a ton of mistakes from the back. As Chelsea will often start attacks from the backline, Torres would be able to step in and carry the ball forward, similar to what Rudiger did with so much success. In terms of reported price, the last report stated that his release clause is between €55 and €60 million, although it is hard to prove this is right. Pau Torres is a worthwhile player and one of the better options out there.
1. Jules Kounde
In the most unsurprising pick of all, the French defender from Sevilla, Jules Kounde, is the top name on the list. He is one of the best young center-backs in the world and is fairly experienced for his age.
Coming over from Bordeaux in 2019, he has played 95 games for Sevilla in his three La Liga seasons. Overall, last season, he was one of the best defenders in the league, getting Sevilla’s defense to the number of just 30 conceded goals, the best tally in La Liga.
Chelsea have been looking at Kounde for two summers in a row now. While they were unable to secure his signature before, this summer is the perfect time to get the French center-back to London.
In terms of fit and overall playstyle, Kounde is a fast, versatile defender who has enough skill to even feature on the flanks. He would be great for Chelsea in various aspects, but the most important one is that he is a right-footed center-back with the ability to progress the ball. Rudiger was usually the first guy to get the ball from Eduard Mendy before pushing it forward by playing as a right-footed defender on the left in the Chelsea trio.
Now, Kounde is more suited to play on the right side of the defense, but so was Rudiger, and Thomas Tuchel’s decision to play him left made him an even better player. For around €80 million, Kounde should be a no-brainer for the new Chelsea ownership and board.