‘Someone that is identical’: Mario Melchiot thinks it will be really difficult to replace 28-year-old Chelsea star

Mario Melchiot said it would be difficult or nearly impossible for Chelsea to replace Antonio Rudiger this month.

Speaking on talkSPORT, Melchiot mentioned the complications of trying to find a suitable alternative to the German international.

How can you replace Rudiger?

There are very few footballers in the sport right like Rudiger.

His often-crazy character and energy is unmatchable, something that Stamford Bridge has not really witnessed since the days of Diego Costa.

Luckily, the defender can talk the talk because he can walk the walk.

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He is easily amongst the finest centre-backs in Europe, let alone in the Premier League, having been promoted to a mighty pedestal by Thomas Tuchel.

After 12 months of working together, the pair are now considered by some as the very best in their respective genres.

Sadly, this relationship could about to be broken up.

Money talks

Rudiger’s contract expires at the end of the season, with a few days left of the transfer window for foreign clubs to make a move for him.

The defender will commit to the Champions League holders if they match his wage demands.

He has asked for a raise up to around the £180,000 – £200,000-a-week (The Athletic) mark, with the club currently only offering £140,000-a-week.

Although the lack of outside activity is promising from a Chelsea perspective, things can change instantly in football.

Hence why Melchiot urged those in charge of the club’s businesses to give Rudiger what he wants.  

“If you ask me, do they have to keep Rudiger, yes they’ve got to do everything to keep him,” said the former Blues full-back.

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“Because if not, they’ve got to go look for someone that is identical.

“You’ve got to get someone who fits the system, you’ve got to buy and spend a lot of money on that person.

“Whilst you have a guy that knows the system, knows everybody, he enjoys it, he wants to win every time and he plays for the manager.

“That’s also very important. We all know, if we play and we don’t have a manager in front of us we don’t want to give 100%, why are we playing?”

Tuchel’s main man

Few know Tuchel’s methods better than Rudiger, therefore trading that understanding in for a fresh model would be unwise.

Only Mason Mount has been picked by the German manager on more occasions than the centre-back.

Plus, awarding his salary wishes will probably cost less than signing a new player.  

Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

For example, Sevilla might demand £68m (Goal) for Jules Kounde, the man most likely of any to step into Rudiger’s shoes.

From the outside, it seems there is only one road Chelsea should be taking with this situation.

Yet, without knowing the bigger picture, all we can do is pray and hope Marina Granovskaia knows what she’s doing.

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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.