Virgil van Dijk and Raphael Varane overlooked with Antonio Rudiger named best defender

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Rio Ferdinand thinks Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger has been the best centre-back in the Premier League since Thomas Tuchel arrived at the club. The defender was a key figure in the team that won the Champions League in the previous campaign under the newly appointed German coach.

Rudiger has continued his fine form this season and has played a crucial part in Chelsea’s fantastic start to the new campaign, which has seen them win four of their opening five league games and concede just one goal. 

The 28-year-old wasn’t always one of the first names on the team sheet however, with the Germany international used far less frequently under former boss Frank Lampard.

And former Manchester United defender Ferdinand has chosen the German defender ahead of the likes of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Raphael Varane.

“Since Tuchel has come I think he’s arguably been the best centre-back,” said Ferdinand.

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“I think him and Dias would have been close but the effect he has had on his team has been immense.

“Under Frank [Lampard] , it was evident he wasn’t Frank’s cup of tea. He didn’t really like him. There was rumours there were trying to put him in the market to be sold.

“In Germany, he’s always been highly thought of. But when the manager doesn’t rate you and you can feel that, I don’t care who you are your confidence takes a beating and it’s hard to perform at that level.” 

Rudiger’s contract is set to expire at the end of June, but the German is in talks with Chelsea over a possible new deal.

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“I hope that they find solutions, but it’s not only between coaches and players, and what we wish for and that’s why it’s between the club, the players and the agent at the moment,” said Tuchel. 

“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. So everything is in place, and give things the time they need. Sometimes it needs a bit longer, sometimes things are very fast.

“There’s no news from my side, and 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.”

Tuchel’s Chelsea will welcome Dean Smith’s Aston Villa in the third round of the EFL Cup on Wednesday.

The Blues are then set to face another big test when they host Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the early kick-off on Saturday.
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