Interview

New faces excite Rudiger

Toni Rudiger says the players are just as excited as everyone else to find out what Chelsea can achieve after a busy transfer window when the new season begins.

With Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner all being added to the promising young squad which ended the last Premier League campaign in good form to secure a top-four finish, there is plenty of anticipation around the start of our 2020/21 Premier League season.

Ahead of our opening game at Brighton on Monday evening, Rudiger explained that the squad are just as excited as the rest of us and eager to help the new signings settle quickly at Chelsea.

‘Because there’s a lot of new faces, of course people get excited, not only the fans and media but also ourselves. It will be an interesting season, definitely,’ he said.

‘First of all for the players is to take the responsibility to bring in the new players and make them feel comfortable to join them into the team. That’s the responsibility of the players who were here last season and in the years before.’

He should be particularly helpful for two of the Blues’ latest recruits, as he has played alongside both Werner and Havertz at international level for Germany, as well as previously being a club-mate of Werner’s during their time at Stuttgart.

‘That’s true for me, especially with the Germans, to help them and everything because it is the first time they have lived out of Germany. To look after them, help them and assist them with everything.

‘I’ve known Timo for a long time and we played together in the national team. He’s a brilliant player and he’s there to score goals. He did that in the friendly match against Brighton and he did that also in the international break, so I hope he’s going to do the same here with us at Chelsea in the future. Kai has played in the national team for two years so we have a good understanding too, so they know that I will help them for sure.’

As well as welcoming two of his countrymen to Chelsea, Rudiger is excited about the prospect of teaming up with one of the world’s most successful defenders of recent years following the arrival at Stamford Bridge of Thiago Silva, widely considered as one of the best centre-backs of his generation.

‘He is one of the best of his generation, definitely,’ said the German. ‘Of course, first of all, to learn from such a great player and everything, and also to have the chance to play alongside this type of player, it is massive. I think it gives everyone a boost and I’m looking forward to it.’

The addition of those new arrivals to an already strong squad means Frank Lampard should have plenty of depth and an abundance of options at his disposal in 2020/21. As well as appreciating how valuable that can be to a manager, Rudiger is also welcoming the competition for places it will bring and motivation for players to make sure they can perform at their best every day.

‘For every coach in the world it’s good if they have lots of options and as a player that means you have to perform, because you can be replaced for another good player. So it’s good for the coach, it’s good for everyone, for each individual.

‘The thing is you just have to look at it on paper and you know that there is a lot of competition here, not only this year but also last season. That is how football is and this is what it’s all about, to fight for your place, and that’s very good.’

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