Ancelotti key to Real move, says Rudiger

Published June 21, 2022
ANTONIO Rudiger smiles during a press conference as part of his official presentation as a new Real Madrid player on Monday.—AFP
ANTONIO Rudiger smiles during a press conference as part of his official presentation as a new Real Madrid player on Monday.—AFP

MADRID: Antonio Rudiger said on Monday Carlo Ancelotti was instrumental in his decision to join Real Madrid from Chelsea this summer.

Rudiger has moved to the Santiago Bernabeu on a free transfer after choosing not to extend his Chelsea contract. The 29-year-old defender has signed a four-year deal with the reigning Spanish and European champions.

Rudiger, speaking at his presentation ceremony at the club’s training ground in Valdebebas, said he made his decision in April, after a conversation with the Italian coach.

“The first time I got in contact, not really me, my agent, was early September. The second time, I spoke with Mr Ancelotti, that was in April,” Rudiger said. “That was the most important moment, to speak with Mr Ancelotti. That was when I made my choice, that I wanted to play for this club under him.

“He said he wanted me, trusted in my abilities, that I could be very helpful to the team, and at my age, that’s enough. At the end of the day, it’s Mr Ancelotti. You always know at Madrid that nothing is guaranteed. You have to fight for your place. I’m ready to do that.”

As well as turning down the chance to stay at Chelsea, Rudiger said there was also interest in him from Barcelona. “There was interest from Barcelona but I told my brother, it’s Real or nothing,” Rudiger said.

The German will be competing with Eder Militao and David Alaba for a spot in Real’s central defence next season, although Ancelotti could also switch to a back three in defence to accommodate an impressive trio of options.

After the departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane last year, Militao and Alaba formed a superb partnership, becoming an essential part of Madrid’s success last term.

“Real Madrid is stacked with very, very good players, also in my position,” said Rudiger. “But I’m looking confidently going into this. What do I bring? Competition, which is healthy for everyone. It keeps everyone going and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“Real Madrid is about winning. That’s what it means to play in this club and I’m really looking forward to start. What they did last year in the Champions League was hard to explain and put into words. It was incredible. They did it against all odds and doubts. Really remarkable.”

Rudiger, who was part of the Chelsea side eliminated by Real in the quarter-finals, said playing against the team that could be his future club was not an issue.

“At that time I wasn’t sure that I was going to Real, but it would be easy anyway because we are professionals and those contractual elements stay off the pitch,” Rudiger said.

“It was a very special and intense game the second-leg, my first time playing at Santiago Bernabeu. It was all going well for our team but after we scored the third goal I was surprised that the atmosphere was still positive from the crowd, it was quite impressive.”

Chelsea, who lost 3-1 in the first leg in west London, led 3-0 in the return but allowed Real to score twice late in the second half and qualify for the semi-finals 5-4.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2022

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