Isn’t the January transfer window great?
You could wake up tomorrow morning, pick out a footballer’s name in a hat and tell your friend that your club is interested in signing him, and the next thing you know Twitter will be inundated with fans claiming they just came from see said player at the Bargain Booze next to their cousin’s house.
That might sound a bit far-fetched and, okay, some of the rumors of course turn out to be true. But we can only assume that the above scenario is exactly how Antonio Rudiger ended up being linked with a move to Manchester City.
Come on, admit it, who’s been at the random player and club transfer rumor mill? Probably needs a catchier name than that, but it’s a working title.
The German defender’s talks over a new deal at Chelsea have apparently reached an impasse, despite Thomas Tuchel’s adamant refusal to leave Stamford Bridge this summer.
Speculation over Rudiger’s potential next destination has become a fixture in the final pages, with transfer guru Gianluca Di Marzio now urging City to make a move for the 28-year-old, who is currently valued at £31.5million sterling by Transfermarkt.
There’s no doubt that Rudiger is a top-notch defender in the right system, although the latter part of this statement tells you all you need to know about the City links.
Antoni no thank you
Tuchel’s trademark back-three gives Rudiger the license to start forward from his left-centre-back role like a FIFA 99 figure, burying his chin in his chest and simply sprinting forward in straight line.
While Pep Guardiola has adopted a similar system at times during his City reign (stop it, stop thinking about the Lyon game now!), his preferred back-four system doesn’t offer such freedom to his defenders. central.
Of course, John Stones, Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte can all step into midfield as comfortably as Pep no doubt slips into his designer slippers from a night out. But why, when City have some of the most accomplished, cunning and talented midfielders in Europe, would Guardiola want to get around Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne as quickly as possible?
Not only would Rudiger probably struggle to produce his best football in Guardiola’s system, but his tendency to produce erratic challenges for no apparent reason would make Pep tear up…er, well, that would make him very angry.
Such shortcomings can be masked with two centre-backs at his side at Chelsea, but he would not be afforded such luxury at City.
Add the above to his heavy expected wage demands and you might forget to see the Germany international in a butcher shop in Didsbury anytime soon.
Pep vs Tuchel start early?
Of course, there’s also the very real possibility of Guardiola playing with his counterpart ahead of Saturday’s mouth-watering clash with Chelsea.
After all, what better way to put the cat among the pigeons ahead of a potentially season-defining game than to pretend you want to sign one of the opposition’s most important players?
City’s loss on Saturday will likely be seen as nothing more than a minor blow. Chelsea’s defeat will see the common thread running through their challenge for the currently suspended title.
Few people could have imagined such a scenario just over seven months ago on that fateful night in Porto.
Chelsea’s incredible transformation in four months under Tuchel and Guardiola’s penchant for self-sabotage in Europe’s premier competition has grabbed the headlines, meaning the former’s incredible record against Guardiola won’t was truly recognized only after the dust had settled.
Chelsea’s Champions League triumph over City saw Tuchel engineer a third successive victory over Guardiola’s side in the space of 6 weeks, leading some to naively proclaim that the Catalan tactician had met his match.
The most resounding 1-0 win you’ve ever seen at Stamford Bridge earlier this season buried such a theory, and City’s apparent ‘interest’ in Rudiger days before the rivalry between the two resumed is just the latest indication that Pep has nothing to worry about.
Chelsea fans would love to paint a picture of Pep furiously scribbling on his tactical board at 3 a.m. five Red Bulls deep as he does everything he can to finally overcome his managerial kryptonite. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say he’s much more likely to be sitting at home with a cigar dangling from the side of his mouth as he ponders which Chelsea player he’ll claim to sign tomorrow.
Naturally, the Rudiger rumors probably have absolutely nothing to do with Pep – he’s way too cool to indulge in such frivolity – but the fact is that Guardiola managed to shatter that illusion that Tuchel had his number in it. 90-minute space earlier this season.
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City’s Champions League final loss to Chelsea in May will never hurt, but the appeasing of Tuchel’s side by Stamford Bridge in September helped speed up the healing process.
A similar performance this weekend at the Etihad Stadium will further banish those demons and, at three o’clock on Saturday afternoon, the big questions may well revolve around how Tuchel will once again stage a big win against Pep.
Do you think there is any truth to the rumors linking City to Rudiger? Follow City Is Ours Content Editor Ross Jackson on Twitter to join the discussion and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.