Paul Merson has made a comparison between current Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger and ex-Blues star David Luiz.
Rudiger, 29, will be leaving Stamford Bridge this summer at a time he’s playing the best football of his career.
The powerhouse centre-back has gone from strength to strength since Thomas Tuchel became Blues manager nearly 18 months ago, with the team’s change of system absolutely vital in his success.
He quickly settled into the position of a left-sided centre-back in a back three. It’s definitely helped him to mature as a defender, plus he’s got a licence in that formation to go aggressively press attackers or express himself in possession.
Merson has compared Rudiger to 35-year-old Brazilian defender Luiz, who’s now playing football in his homeland with Flamengo.
His best spell in a Chelsea shirt was during the Antonio Conte era when he lined up in the heart of a back three. Similarly, it’s a system that really seemed to get the best out of him. He got to show off his exquisite passing range, as well as keep his defending simple.
Rudiger and Luiz definitely both have erratic traits when it comes to their defending, plus they’re both massive characters. It’s a decent shout from Merse this one.
“Rudiger will be a massive loss, I can’t express how big that’s going to be. If they played a four at the back, he wouldn’t be missed. He can only go and play somewhere in a three, for me, he reminds me of a David Luiz – he’ll go and chase the ball, close down, go out of position – but in a three he can go and take that chance,” Merson wrote in his Sky Sports column.
Tuchel’s played around with a back four on a few occasions this season, so it’s going to be interesting to see what the long-term plan is for Chelsea’s defence.
The back three formation with wing-backs does suit plenty of individuals in the current squad, including the full-backs that love to attack.
However, a lot may depend on what kind of new centre-halves join the club.
Rudiger’s mastered the Chelsea system as a vital part of the back three, but he may need to adapt his game and show how far he’s grown next season. He’s reportedly set to join Real Madrid, who play with a back four under Carlo Ancelotti.
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