Jose Fonte explained he much he has relished observing Antonio Rudiger’s continued rise in a Chelsea shirt.
Speaking to talkSPORT, the former Southampton star was discussing his favourite centre-backs in the game currently.
A few years ago, Rudiger wouldn’t even be considered in this conversation.
Fast forward to present day and there is no feasible reason to overlook him.
He is a giant in defence, not only physically, but metaphorically as well.
It’s clear the German’s mere presence boosts the entire dressing room.
Thomas Tuchel knows whenever his fellow countryman steps foot on the pitch, nothing less than a fully committed figure will come off it.
This was not the case during Frank Lampard’s supremacy, mainly because he denied Rudiger the reins of Stamford Bridge far too often.
But those days are behind the pair, generally for Chelsea’s benefit.
Rudiger is now amongst the highest echelons of Europe’s central warriors.
“I’ve enjoyed watching him,” admitted Fonte.
“He’s in great form. That’s the reality. It’s very subjective to say who is the best in the moment, the best in the world.
“It’s great to see that he is having a great season and he’s playing his best football since he came to the league.
“But everyone has their opinion on who is the best.
“I’m a big fan of Virgil (van Dijk) and I’m a big fan of (Ruben) Dias.”
Considering van Dijk and Dias have arguably been two of the English top flight’s finest players – let alone centre-halves – in the past few seasons, for Rudiger to be involved in that chat is praise enough.
In fact, Liverpool’s Dutch icon name checked the Chelsea defender personally in a recent interview.
“There’s so many good defenders out there,” said van Dijk.
“If you look at (Aymeric) Laporte and Rudiger.”
Not bad coming from the 2018 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year.