Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has earned big praise from pundit Garth Crooks after making it into the latest Premier League team of the week.
The Germany international was out of favour at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, with former Blues manager Frank Lampard clearly not fancying him as first choice material.
However, Rudiger has been a key performer for Chelsea since Thomas Tuchel took over, and Crooks believes this major selection error by Lampard may have played a part in costing him his job.
The pundit, writing in his column on BBC Sport, added that Rudiger’s superb no-nonsense style is now one of the main things holding this Chelsea team together at the moment, following another hugely impressive display in the 2-1 win away to Manchester City at the weekend.
“His (Rudiger’s) performance against Real Madrid in midweek was outstanding. I have often said, the no-nonsense German international is the best defender in the club and his performances this season have proved it,” Crooks said.
“I don’t know what took place between Frank Lampard and Rudiger during the early part of the season, when the German was left out for no apparent reason, but it seems to have cost Lampard dearly. Rudiger is the one consistent Chelsea defender who seems to be holding it all together for them at the moment.
“At 36, Thiago Silva is used sparingly, Cesar Azpilicueta comes in and out and so does Kurt Zouma, while Andreas Christensen is out injured. That leaves Rudiger and I wouldn’t mess with him.”
Chelsea fans will be thrilled to see this improvement from Rudiger, but it certainly reflects poorly on Lampard that he overlooked the former Roma man’s talents for so long.
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