Paul Merson has questioned the decision of Chelsea manager Frank Lampard to overlook defender Antonio Rudiger and he’s surprised that he’s so far down the pecking order.

The 27-year-old is one of five senior centre-backs at Stamford Bridge and he’s the only one yet who has not played a single minute so far in the opening three games of the season.

He was left out of the match day squad in the previous league game against Liverpool and it was the same again in midweek during the Carabao Cup win against Barnsley.

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Merson believes Rudiger is one of the top centre-backs at the club and should be playing, which is why he’s even suggested a switch to a back three system to accommodate him moving forward.

“Frank Lampard needs to change his tactics or Chelsea can kiss goodbye to Antonio Rudiger. Chelsea have got five centre-backs and that’s too many unless you’re playing three every week – and I think that’s what Lampard should do,” Merson wrote in the Daily Star.

“At the moment he’s playing a back four and someone is always going to miss out. Right now it’s Rudiger, which surprises me. I thought Kurt Zouma or Andreas Christensen would go this summer because Rudiger is better than both of them.

“But he can’t even get on the bench. If that carries on he’ll be gone. He won’t want to stick around to be fifth choice. But if Lampard switches to three at the back with wing-backs, he solves the problem and gets the best out of Thiago Silva, who won’t be so exposed in that system.”

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Rudiger, 27, is currently being linked with an exit this summer amid his exile from the squad and reports suggest the powerhouse defender could be on the move.

According to the Telegraph, the Germany international might seal a move away from West London before the transfer window shuts, most likely to be on a loan deal.

Rudiger, who joined the club back in 2017, has proven on his day that he’s a no-nonsense defender that reads the game well and can be solid in the heart of the Chelsea defender, but unfortunately consistency is a main issue.

Lampard has put him at the bottom of his pecking order behind Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, Fikayo Tomori and new signing Thiago Silva, but regular Chelsea watchers will not be as surprised as Merson by that decision.

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