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Townsend highlights the “inspiring” Chelsea man in the Zenit win

Commentator Andy Townsend believes Antonio Rudiger is an “inspirational” player for Chelsea after becoming one of the top names on the team roster under Thomas Tuchel.

The German defender fought for a constant playing time under former boss Frank Lampard, but has become a crucial player for Tuchel.

He put in another excellent performance against Zenit in Chelsea’s first Champions League game on Tuesday night.

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The Blues sat 1-0 past the Russian team thanks to a header from Romelu Lukaku to get their CL title defense underway.

On a night when Rüdiger impressed, Townsend highlighted the 28-year-old’s influence on his team.

“You can’t imagine a successful one Chelsea Team without him, ”he said during the comment talkSPORT.

“He has these inspiring qualities, he pulls people out of their places as center strikers! There aren’t too many who do that.

“Every now and then he goes crazy and tries to hit you and fire you on King’s Road.

“But that’s what he’s got about. He wants it. He wants to make a difference for the team when things have calmed down a bit.

“And very few players overtake him defensively.”

Despite his importance to the team, Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia is reportedly open for sale by Rüdiger in January.

The 28-year-old is now in the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge and talks are ongoing about an extension.

Rüdiger reportedly wants a significant wage increase in west London amid the interest from Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

If there isn’t a solution by January, Granovskaia will try to profit from Rüdiger, according to La Colina de Nervion (via Express).

The report adds that the sale of Rüdiger would then result in Chelsea resuming their pursuit of Jules Kounde after he lost the Seville Defender in the summer.

But the sale of Rüdiger would be against the will of Tuchel, who repeatedly cheered the central defender’s “amazing” performance.

“Nothing is better than what he does for a new contract,” said the manager back in May. “If he wants a new contract, he has our full support to stay with the club.

“He speaks to his appearances; he was amazing from day one. We picked him in the first game after just one day of training.

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