'Would never have known': BBC pundit blown away by Chelsea player's passion, even though he could be leaving

Antonio Rudiger made it into Garth Crooks’ BBC Team of the Week largely because of his dedication to Chelsea during their win over Newcastle United yesterday.

Rudiger enjoyed another energetic and enthusiastic display for the Blues on Sunday as they narrowly defeated Eddie Howe’s men at Stamford Bridge.

Rudi-great

The German would be entirely excused for not being able to drum up the drive needed to contest this tough battle.

After all, he has played more times this season (40) than any other Chelsea player, missing just one match since early December.

Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

Also, his mind might’ve been elsewhere ahead of the game against Newcastle.

Following the announcement that the UK government had imposed sanctions upon Roman Abramovich, the whole outlook of the club was thrown into serious doubt.

Along with the uncertainties regarding financial income and job safety, concerns about player’s futures were thrust into the limelight.

Without the security of Abramovich’s cash incentives, some of those nearing the end of their deals may decide to jump ship before it sinks.

Antonio, please don’t go

Rudiger very much falls into the category of contract worries, as the 29-year-old now looks more likely than ever before to leave as a free agent in the summer.

Yet, the centre-back admirably continues to perform as if he is here to stay for another few seasons, increasing his value amongst the fans.

Helping keep a clean sheet in light of the recent circumstances provided another reason for supporters to squirm at the thought of losing his services.

“Under normal circumstances a win at home against Newcastle United by the European champions, regardless of the Geordie resurgence, would not have required special mention,” wrote Crooks.

“However in the current climate I thought this was an outstanding performance by Chelsea who have been thrown into turmoil by government sanctions imposed on them.

“Rudiger is one of their key players who is out of contract at the end of the season, with the club now unable to renegotiate his contract due to the sanctions.

“You would never have known by the passion, determination and sheer enthusiasm of his performance.”

Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

German efficieny

Thomas Tuchel’s team clinched the 1-0 victory thanks to a man whose career at Chelsea isn’t in any doubt at the moment.

Kai Havertz scored his fourth goal in three games in quite spectacular fashion.

After bringing the ball down from the sky, the attacker then nonchalantly stroked his shot past Martin Dubravka.

It was a finish atypical of Havertz’s form and one followers of the Blues hope to see for many more years.

A shining light amongst the doom and gloom.

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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.