football

Rio Ferdinand points finger at Frank Lampard during debate over "phenomenal" Chelsea star


Rio Ferdinand believes Frank Lampard did not recognise the star he had in his Chelsea squad before he was sacked as manager and replaced by Thomas Tuchel in January

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In pictures: Juventus v Chelsea

Rio Ferdinand believes that Antonio Rudiger is the best centre-back in the Premier League, despite having had to “come from the wilderness” under Frank Lampard at Chelsea.

Rudiger has established himself as a regular in Thomas Tuchel’s defence in 2021, playing a crucial role in the Blues’ Champions League win over Manchester City in May.

The German international has made the left side of Tuchel’s three-man defence his own, with his consistency an impressive facet of his game this year.

His form this year comes in stark contrast to 2020, when Rudiger struggled to earn game time under Lampard.

Rudiger came close to leaving Stamford Bridge for another club, but Chelsea’s decision to keep him certainly seems to have been vindicated.








Rio Ferdinand believes Antonio Rudiger is the Premier League’s best defender
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Image:

BT Sport)



Ferdinand is certainly a fan, with the Manchester United legend turning heads earlier this month when he named Rudiger as the Premier League’s best centre-back – ahead of Man City’s Ruben Dias, or Liverpool ’s Virgil van Dijk.

Ferdinand was asked to expand on his opinion ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League game against Juventus on Wednesday night and he stuck to his guns.

“At the moment yeah,” he said when asked on BT Sport whether Rudiger was the best defender in the country.





“I think Dias last season was the best overall, but since Tuchel’s come, I think he’s been the most commanding centre-back in the league. He’s been phenomenal.

“In terms of his absolute desire to win every ball, aggression. Bearing in mind he’s come from the wilderness under the previous manager Frank Lampard – he just wasn’t flavour of the month under Frank and that’s fine – the character to come back in the team and become an integral member of this team [is impressive].

“One of the main reasons for them going and winning the Champions League last season was because of him. Without him, I don’t think they’d have done it.”

Do you agree with Rio Ferdinand? Who is the best centre-back in the Premier League? Have your say in the comments section below.







Antonio Rudiger has impressed under Thomas Tuchel



Former Chelsea winger Joe Cole was happy to sing Rudiger’s praises too ahead of the match, which Tuchel’s side lost 1-0 in Turin thanks to Federico Chiesa’s goal.

“Sometimes he does things that are really unorthodox, I think he’s outstanding, he’s got defensive instincts,” Cole said.

“He’s always like the last man – that last tackle, that last moment when the attacker thinks they’re finally running in on goal, he comes out of nowhere.”

Former England striker Eni Aluko then picked out another attribute which makes Rudiger elite.

“His pace as well is what stands out for me, he’s got such pace,” she said. “As a defender against really quick forwards, that’s always going to help you.




“Covering, emergency defending, he’s got pace and intelligence.”

Rudiger’s current contract with Chelsea is set to expire in June 2022 and Cole believes the club need to tie him down to a new deal as soon as possible.

“He’s only got one year left on his contract, that’s one of the biggest bits of business Chelsea need to do,” he added.

“He’s an integral member of not just the team, but the group, he’s a leader, so they need to get that sorted Chelsea.”


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