London ball

Martin Keown discusses ‘outstanding’ Chelsea defender amid looming transfer decision

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown believes Chelsea center-back Antonio Rudiger is “really exceptional” but has also pointed to a potential flaw in his recent game.

The 28-year-old is out of contract at Stamford Bridge this summer, with reports claiming he is looking for £ 400,000 a week in order to sign with the club in the future.

His potential departure, as well as the contracts of Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen which all expire this summer, could force Thomas Tuchel’s hand in the transfer window.

The Blues have been linked with a number of defenders ahead of January, as they look to resolve their potential issues at the back.

However, Rudiger has already proven to be a key part of Chelsea’s defense both off the ball and as a driving force on the ball.

The defender turned supplier twice in the 3-2 win over Leeds United on Saturday, winning both penalties in the game after being fouled by Raphinha for the first penalty and then knocked out by Mateusz Klich deep in the extra time to secure victory.

Speaking on Match of the Day, Keown discussed the importance of Rudiger and said: “He’s a real driving force, I love watching him play.

“I was an aggressive defender myself, but I think this guy takes it to another level.

“When he gets the ball back he likes to run forward whenever he can.

“The fans love him there because he shakes things up.

“He takes matters into his own hands, he can cut a wide ball to create things and defensively he’s so aggressive.

“He just closed the door; aggressive, strong and really leads from behind.

“Truly exceptional. “

The expert was quick to point out, however, that Chelsea’s defense had recently been affected by their assault due to N’Golo Kante’s loss to injury.

Rudiger is one of Chelsea’s four nominees for Fans Footballer of the Year and you can vote for him below.

Keown added: “With Kante not in the side I think he’s chasing things too much, conceding a lot of goals recently, Chelsea, and they’re just being exploited.

“Sometimes he just goes after things. Sometimes he walks a tightrope.