Thomas Tuchel has engineered a dramatic improvement in our defending since his appointment in late January, but a coach can only do so much with drills and instructions on the training ground. The execution of his ideas is entirely dependent on the players who take the field for the actual games.
Perhaps no player has been more responsible in doing so than Antonio Rüdiger, who’s played the most minutes in the back three since Tuchel’s appointment, including every single minute so far this season, and has made the left-center position entirely his own, contributing immensely both on and off the ball, including in build-up.
His energy and attitude are also infectious, and a key part of the team’s chemistry — all of which is making Tuchel hope that Chelsea can find a solution to extending Rüdiger’s contract, which is currently set to expire at the end of the season. As with the coaching bit, the execution of these hopes is not in Tuchel’s hands.
“It’s between the club, the player and the agent at the moment. We hope that they find the solution and everything I can say, he plays excellent, and since a long time very consistent, on a very high level. I feel him very calm and focused, and it’s not a distraction for him [but] there’s no news from my side.
“I think that Toni feels very, very good at Chelsea, he feels very respected by his team-mates and he feels the importance that he has in the team and in the squad. That’s well deserved because he delivers, he feels the love from the supporters when he plays. He’s in the strongest league in Europe, in a big club, so not many reasons to change that.
“But in the end it’s between him and the club, and that’s in good hands. I am calm and relaxed, whatever has to happen will happen.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Right now, it’s looking like Toni wants to at least test the market in January, with rumors of PSG for example willing to more than double his current salary. Chelsea appear to not be willing to go that far to keep the 28-year-old.
Head versus heart, which will he, and we, choose?