Chelsea must go all out to stop 'integral' Antonio Rudiger leaving on free transfer as Cole reveals why he is so good
FORMER Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole has labelled contract rebel Antonio Rudiger as 'integral' to how the club play.
Rudiger has been strongly linked with a summer transfer upon the expiry of his contract.
Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG and Juventus are all keen on the 28-year-old, after he rejected Chelsea's proposal of a new deal last year.
But Blues legend Cole spoke of his admiration for Rudiger while on punditry duty during Sky Sports' coverage of the Carabao Cup semi-final clash between Tottenham and Chelsea.
Rudiger himself scored the goal to help Chelsea to a 1-0 win, booking their place in the final of the competition.
And Cole said: "I played with him at Roma. Great personality, great attitude in training, always pushing to want to be the best.
"He’s been integral in this Chelsea team in the way they play.
"He’s aggressive, not letting players come off him and go into little pockets that normally centre-backs don’t like to go in. He’s aggressive, he keeps Chelsea on front foot."
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Cole went on to praise Rudiger for the way he helps nurture young players in the dressing room, and added Chelsea 'need' to keep him at the club.
He continued: "I hope he stays because I think he’s been brilliant, especially for the younger players. The younger players always come back to us and always mention how good he is with them.
"You need to keep players like him in and around the dressing room."
Jamie Redknapp, also on punditry duty, agreed with Cole, saying: "I’m sure they are [doing everything to keep him]. There are not many like him in world football. A lot of centre-backs now, they’re nice.
"Not many of them are going to be aggressive or kick you, be in for a fight every time you play against them.
"When I look at Rudiger that’s what he brings, he’s a one-off to that extent.
"If you’re Chelsea you are doing everything. But from Rudiger’s point of view, he’s in a brilliant position because everyone would want him."
Rudiger helped Chelsea to the Champions League title last season, and has been a standout player once again this term.
He's made 28 appearances this campaign, even chipping in with three goals and four assists, impressive numbers for a centre-back.
The Blues are still hopeful that he will sign a new contract, with claims that Rudiger is in no rush to decide on his future.
Speaking last night, Thomas Tuchel said he was 'confident' an agreement could be reached.
Asked if the defender will leave Chelsea in the summer, the Chelsea coach said: "Everybody knows but there’s a lot of ‘if’ in your question. Let’s wait to see what becomes the reality."
When pushed if he is confident they can tie down Rudiger to a long-term deal, Tuchel added: "Of course we are confident. We have things to offer and he is the player he is in a Chelsea shirt and in a Chelsea environment. I think he knows it very well."
Rudiger has been able to officially negotiate with overseas clubs from January 1, but is yet to announce whether anything has been agreed.
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