Former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Emmanuel Petit has likened Antonio Rudiger to one of his old teammates, Martin Keown, whom he describes as a “crazy defender”.
Rudiger, 28, has developed a reputation in the Premier League for his hard-hitting, non-nonsense defensive approach, which has particularly come to the fore under Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.
The Germany international has been one of the division’s most consistent and ruthless defenders since his compatriot succeeded Frank Lampard in the Chelsea hotseat back in February, playing a pivotal role at the back as the club secured the Champions League last season.
A fan favourite at the Bridge, Rudiger will see his present contract expire at the end of the season and rumours have been swirling that German giants Bayern Munich have been closely monitoring his situation in west London, with the Bundesliga champions thought to be eyeing up his signature.
Rudiger has reaffirmed his immediate commitment to Chelsea, saying he is only “concentrating on what is imminent”, pacifying current concerns, given how influential he is to Tuchel’s defence, not just for his tackling ability, but his leadership qualities and ruthlessness.
Former Chelsea midfielder Petit believes those two traits bracket Rudiger with an old-school style of centre-back, likening the Germany international to “the crazy defenders” he used to play with “back in the day”, chiefly Martin Keown.
Petit told bookmakers.co.uk: “This guy is a survivor. Since Tuchel has been the manager he’s been one of the top defenders in world football.
“He reminds me of the crazy defenders I used to play with back in the day like Martin Keown.
“Those types of guys were always really tough on other players, and playing against them was both a physical and mental battle because they could make you feel bad on the pitch.
“I think Rudiger is similar, and it must be very tough to be on the pitch with him because you can disappear very quickly. He always plays the ball but he also plays the players and strikers know that and it can be intimidating.
“Sometimes he tries to destroy strikers, and I don’t really like that side of his game. But for me, the priority of a defender is to scare strikers.
“People might not understand that but it’s true, you have to scare them to try and stop them from scoring goals. For me, Rudiger is one of the hardest defenders in the world.”