Antonio Rudiger has highlighted a talk with Carlo Ancelotti as the most important moment in his decision to join Real Madrid.
The German defender left Chelsea at the end of his contract this summer and, after months of speculation, agreed a deal with defending La Liga and European champions Los Blancos as they look to build on their successes last season.
With so many clubs knowing of his contract situation, and his quality, Rudiger had interest from all over Europe from as early as January but he did not let it affect his performances on the pitch for Chelsea.
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Rudiger was one of the Blues’ best players in defence as they secured a third-placed finish in the Premier League and reached the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals, as well as the quarter-finals of the Champions League – where they were beaten by Rudiger’s new club Real Madrid.
The German was a general on the left of Chelsea’s back three and often the man given the freedom to join the attack with the ball at his feet. When Chelsea were chasing a game, Rudiger was often the man to lift the spirits and look to change the game.
Last season in the Premier League, Rudiger attempted 477 final third passes, more than any other centre-back in the division.
Some Chelsea fans had still held out hope of Rudiger signing a new deal once they were able to do business again, but the German had his sights set on a move away. And although Rudiger has admitted Barcelona were interested, the 29-year-old revealed he only had eyes for Madrid.
“Yes, there was interest from Barcelona. But I told my brother [and agent] it was Real or nothing,” he said in his unveiling at Real Madrid.
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“The first time there was contact it wasn’t really myself, it was my agent. That was in September last year.
“The second time, when I spoke directly with Mr [Carlo] Ancelotti, was in April. That was the most important moment. That was when I made my choice.”
April was when Rudiger and Chelsea met Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and although he will have had a potential move to Los Blancos in the back of his mind, that didn’t stop the German wanting to knock his new club out.
“To be honest, it was easy. By that time nothing was clear,” he added when asked if it was hard to face Real Madrid.
“And even if there would be something that would be clear, even if I would end up signing and coming here, it is important to be professional and at the time my objective was to knock Madrid out. Unfortunately we could not. But for me it was easy to maintain my concentration.
“What Madrid did last year in the Champions League, I don’t know how to describe it.
“It was incredible… When you come to a big, massive club it’s important, but I try to enjoy the pressure. I see myself as lucky to be here.”
|Chelsea summer transfer odds 22/23: To sign for before 3rd September||Sky Bet|