Chelsea And Antonio Rudiger Set For Emotional Reunion In The Champions League

Rudiger was a key player in his final years at Stamford Bridge
08:00, 12 Apr 2023

Chelsea are set for an interesting reunion this week when they square up against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals. It was 10 months ago that Los Blancos announced that they had signed defender Antonio Rudiger on a free transfer from Chelsea after the player opted to let his contract run down with the Blues.

In the last few years of his career at Stamford Bridge, Rudiger evolved from a decent squad player to the most important centre-back in the team, particularly under the management of Thomas Tuchel. And it was because of this importance to the team that when the time came for discussions over a new deal, the player wanted to be rewarded with a bigger salary.

It was reported that the German international was seeking a contract worth £200k per week, making him one of the biggest earners at the club. However, Chelsea were unwilling to disrupt their wage structure and after trying to get as close to Rudiger’s demands as possible, it soon became clear that he would be moving on in the summer.

Almost a year later and the Blues may already be rueing their decision to not give the defender what he wanted given their defensive struggles this season, which has seen the Blues languishing 11th in the Premier League, 17 points off the top four.


Chelsea have conceded 31 goals in 30 Premier League matches this term, two less than their entire total for the 2021-22 campaign when Rudiger was in the heart of defence. Despite Rudiger not having the best first season in Madrid, with Los Blancos being 13 points adrift of rivals Barcelona in the La Liga title race, the 30-year-old has helped his side keep eight clean sheets in the league while playing in a back four as opposed to a back three with Chelsea.

In his absence, Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly has spent over £500 million on new recruits at Stamford Bridge, spending around £136 million on three centre-halves: Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana and Benoit Badiashile. Fofana alone cost a whopping £70 million but he and Badiashile are viewed as valuable long-term assets at the club. Regardless, Chelsea could have really benefitted from keeping Rudiger on the books for his experience to help the new signings become strong defenders for the club, just like he was.

Koulibaly arrived as Rudiger’s replacement from Napoli. He came with years of experience but he, like most of the Chelsea squad, has really struggled this term. 17 new players have been signed by Chelsea in the last two transfer windows, some of which don't seem to have any purpose and made Boehly look like a kid in a sweet shop.

And for all that money he has invested on players (not just defenders) who may or may not work out, he could’ve easily set the £10.4 million aside that it would cost to meet Rudiger’s demands per year - the team has certainly lacked his desire and organisational qualities this year.

Rudiger always made it clear that his priority was to stay in west London, and there is no doubting how much of an impact he could have had on the side this term through all the turmoil on and off the pitch. While he is embracing and enjoying his new chapter in Spain, a part of him will be saddened to take to the pitch against his old side because he, and the loyal Blues supporters, will feel that this should have been a match where he was taking to the Bernabeu turf in Chelsea’s colours.

Chelsea are 7/4 to reach the UCL semi-finals with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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