Soon to be Real Madrid player Antonio Rüdiger is already reaping the benefits of that upgrade in status by getting named to the 2021-22 Champions League Team of the Season. In previous years, this entailed a 23-man “Squad of the Season”, but I guess we’re going with just an 11-man lineup now.
The 29-year-old, who wasn’t even the best defender at Chelsea, did play every single relevant minute of our campaign this season — i.e. he didn’t play in the final group game away to Zenit — and signed off with a memorable goal against, incidentally, eventual winners and future employers Real Madrid in the quarterfinals.
Toni thus joins future teammates Karim Benzema (who was also named the competition’s Player of the Year), Vinícius Jr, Luka Modrić, and Thibaut Courtois (who’s also a former teammate!) in the selection, which also includes four players from Liverpool (three defenders, plus Trent Alexander-Arnold), as well as Kevin De Bruyne and Kylian Mbappé. Curiously, for such an exercise, it’s almost a balanced and properly set up team.