With Antonio Rudiger set to leave Chelsea at the end of the season, attention is turning to who is going to replace the German in the heart of Thomas Tuchel’s defence. Jules Kounde’s continual faultless performances makes him a worthy candidate.
Under Tuchel, Rudiger has quickly become one of the best centre-backs in world football and will be a huge loss for the Blues when he leaves on the expiry of his contract. Tuchel has been vocal in how he hoped that the former Roma star would remain at the club beyond this season, but for one reason or another, the 29-year-old has opted to move on to pastures new with Real Madrid expected to sign him this summer.
Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr have both proven this season that, despite their inexperience, they are ready to step up and feature regularly at Stamford Bridge. But many feel that a top-quality replacement is required.
Chelsea attempted to sign Sevilla defender Kounde before the start of the season, but their pursuit of the Frenchman was unsuccessful. They are now expected to renew their interest in the summer. Impressively, WhoScored have revealed that the defender has not committed a single error leading to an opposition goal in 90 La Liga appearances since joining Sevilla from Bordeaux.
Kounde has been an integral part of Julen Lopetegui’s side this season, who are currently second behind runaway leaders Real Madrid. At 23 years old, he also wouldn’t be a quick fix for Chelsea’s defence, rather a long-term resolution that will only improve.
Rudiger has been linked with Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid over the past few months – with the latter his most likely destination according to reports. Speaking after finding out that Rudiger wanted to depart, Tuchel explained: “When Toni knocks at your door one hour before training, it’s not a good sign.
“Normally he doesn’t knock – he just grabs you in between and tells you something, so everybody thought this is not looking good. Then we had this brief conversation. First of all, I appreciated that he came and told me. I was one of the first and that shows me we have a relationship where we handle things directly and honestly and are not afraid to tell each other what we think.”
After explaining that Rudiger is a strong-minded individual that is unlikely to be talked out of a decision, he continued: “I was disappointed but not on a personal level. It’s his right to figure out what opportunities he had and it’s his right to change clubs. I did not like it and he knows that we did not like it but we had big players with injuries before for many weeks or months and life does not stop.”