‘Not just big’: Malang Sarr says Chelsea teammate is actually really good on the ball

Malang Sarr remarked on fellow Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger and his excellency in possession that sometimes gets overlooked.

As quoted by the Evening Standard, Sarr pointed out all of the German’s qualities, including the underrated skill of being strong on the ball.

What does Rudiger have in his locker?

Rudiger has built up a reputation of being a striker’s nightmare over the past 12 months.

He is like a shark smelling blood whenever an opponent enters his patch, harrying, hassling and eventually hunting his prey.

Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Everything the 28-year-old does is fully-committed, whether that be tackling, heading, or infuriating a rival player.

He is also a goal threat, as demonstrated last night during the 1-0 Carabao Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Yet, what sometimes gets overlooked is the centre-half’s efficiency with the football at his feet.

His direct diagonal switches are customary during matches, not to mention those mazy dribbles he loves embarking on at regular intervals.

According to WhoScored.com, Thiago Silva is the only member of Thomas Tuchel’s squad who has made more accurate long passes (93) than Rudiger (89) in the Premier League this season.

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The Deutsch defender does lead the way for accurate short passes (1091), with Silva (1090) not far behind.

Sarr sings the praises

All of these assets are supported by a passionate and charismatic figure, the type every changing room needs.

“He is amazing on and off the pitch,” said Sarr of Rudiger.

“What you see is him on the pitch always giving his heart, giving energy and always helping his team-mates and you can see how influential he is.

“He’s not just big, he’s a good, good player with the ball and he always tries to help the team, not just himself, to bring the toughness to the squad and just to lead.”

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Setting an example to the kids

Younger players, like Sarr, within Chelsea’s group can use Rudiger as an exemplary sporting role model.

The Frenchman has clearly benefitted from playing alongside his senior colleague, as his performances continue to improve by the game.

Trevoh Chalobah is another who owes the former Roma man a great deal.

“When I first came Rudiger was the one that looked after me, he always believed in me as well,” revealed Chalobah earlier this season.

“It’s nice to be playing with him, he’s always talking to me.”

Photo by Chris Lee – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

This type of guidance will be lost if Rudiger leaves Stamford Bridge this year, with very few in the profession able to replace him.

Just think of the children, Antonio!

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.