Rio Ferdinand believes that Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has been the best centre-back in the Premier League since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel at the club last season.
Rudiger, who has been part of the Chelsea side who have started the league campaign with four wins and a draw in their opening five matches, while only conceding one goal, has been described as ‘immense’ by the former Manchester United and England defender.
Despite the Blues having a whole host of defensive options including Trevoh Chalobah, Cesar Azpiliqueta, Andreas Christensen, Reece James and Thiago Silva, Rudiger has been a mainstay in the team at Stamford Bridge this term after falling down the pecking order while Frank Lampard was in charge.
Ferdinand believes that both Rudiger and Manchester City’s centre back Ruben Dias have been the standout defenders in the Premier League during the last year, but the German’s effect on his teammates means he edges it as the best in the league.
Since Tuchel has come I think he’s arguably been the best centre-back. I think him and Dias would have been close but the effect he has had on his team has been immense.
‘Under Frank [Lampard] , it was evident he wasn’t Frank’s cup of tea. He didn’t really like him. There was rumours there were trying to put him in the market to be sold.
In Germany, he’s always been highly thought of. But when the manager doesn’t rate you and you can feel that, I don’t care who you are your confidence takes a beating and it’s hard to perform at that level.’
The German, who only has 12 months left on his current contract at Stamford Bridge, is currently in negotiations with Chelsea’s board over a new deal, with Thomas Tuchel eager to keep one of his stars at the club.
‘I hope that they find solutions, but it’s not only between coaches and players, and what we wish for and that’s why it’s between the club, the players and the agent at the moment,’ he said.
‘We hope that they find the solution and everything I can say, he plays excellent, and since a long time very consistent, on a very high level.
‘I feel him very calm and focused, and it’s not a distraction for him. So everything is in place, and give things the time they need. Sometimes it needs a bit longer, sometimes things are very fast.
‘There’s no news from my side, and I think that Toni feels very, very good at Chelsea, he feels very respected by his team-mates and he feels the importance that he has in the team and in the squad.
‘That’s well deserved because he delivers, he feels the love from the supporters when he plays. He’s in the strongest league in Europe, in a big club, so not many reasons to change that.’