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Scouting Chelsea Transfer Target Antonio Rudiger

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJune 2, 2016

ROME, ITALY - MAY 08:  Antonio Rudiger of AS Roma celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the Serie A match between AS Roma and AC Chievo Verona at Stadio Olimpico on May 8, 2016 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Welcome to the transfer merry-go-round.

Antonio Rudiger only signed permanently for Roma from Stuttgart on Monday after spending a season on loan with the Serie A club, but he's already being linked with a move to Chelsea.

According to Italian journalist Emanuele Giulianelli (h/t Rhys Turrell of the Daily Star), Chelsea are prepared to pay £20 million for Rudiger, offering the defender a five-year deal in the process:

Emanuele Giulianelli @EmaGiulianelli

Chelsea decisive move for Rüdiger. Blues ready to offer about €27mln to Roma, 5 years deal for the player. #cfc

So what will new boss Antonio Conte be getting for his money? Why is Rudiger being linked with Chelsea? What could he offer the Blues? Bleacher Report takes a closer look.

Position

It makes sense Chelsea are attempting to sign defenders this summer. Not only are the club short on numbers—they ended the 2015/16 campaign with just six recognised first-team defenders—but they also endured their worst defensive record in the Premier League since 1996/97.

It was 20 years ago when Chelsea last conceded more than 50 goals in a league campaign, with the against tally for the last 12 months reading 53.

Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

That was a big factor behind Chelsea's mid-table finish. Their defensive record is what we would expect from a team in 10th place, as they lack the sort of solidity that won them league titles and other trophies.

Rudiger would slot in as one of Chelsea's two centre-backs (if Conte maintains a back four), which is where he played for much of last season alongside Kostas Manolas at Roma. He also played one game at right-back for manager Luciano Spalletti's side.

Being just 23 years old and very much a defender for modern times, there's an argument to suggest he would also fit into a back three at Stamford Bridge.

He has the attributes to join two other defenders in that role, demonstrating good pace and positional sense.

What Are His Strengths?

Bologna's forward Sergio Floccari (R) fights for the ball with Roma's defender from Germany Antonio Rudiger during the Italian Serie A football match Roma vs Bologna on April 11, 2016 at Olympic stadium in Rome.  / AFP / ALBERTO PIZZOLI        (Photo cred
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/Getty Images

Continuing his education in Italy with Roma after four seasons in the Bundesliga, we shouldn't be surprised Rudiger has developed his game substantially in the past 12 months or so. Italy is a country famed for producing fine defenders, and Serie A plays a big influence on those who come in from abroad too.

A key part of that development has been Rudiger's positioning and the way he reads the game. He's not one for diving into tackles too often, which says plenty for how he has set himself up and observed the threat before him.

It's normally the players who have been caught out who have to make those sorts of last-ditch tackles to cover themselves.

That's something we've come to see from Kurt Zouma at the back for Chelsea. Like Rudiger, Zouma is developing, and a big part of his progress will be gradually removing those lunges we have seen from him in the past. They look good for the cameras, but in reality, they are hinting at something else.

Like Zouma, Rudiger has the pace to recover if he is found out.

Weaknesses

ROME, ITALY - APRIL 11:  Antonio Rudiger (R) of AS Roma competes for the ball with Sergio Floccari of Bologna FC during the Serie A match between AS Roma and Bologna FC at Stadio Olimpico on April 11, 2016 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Imag
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

If he comes to England, Rudiger would have to improve his aerial ability. Despite the cosmopolitan nature of the Premier League, English clubs and their managers still like to play with target men who can bully defenders.

Wingers will whip crosses in and test those at centre-back, looking for their big men to be running in and attacking the ball.

Many defenders have become Premier League roadkill by failing to get to grips with that side of English football. It's a part of Rudiger's game that would be a concern.

That said, he would be training alongside John Terry, so he would have the ideal team-mate to help him improve in that regard. Terry is a master when it comes to aerial duels and is rarely beaten by opponents. He could teach Rudiger plenty.

What Are They Saying About Rudiger?

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 14:  AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti shouts to his players during the Serie A match between AC Milan and AS Roma at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 14, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

When Roma defeated city rivals Lazio with a convincing 4-1 display in April, Spalletti was keen to reserve personal praise for the young defender. The 57-year-old manager said the following at the time, per ESPN FC:

Everyone tackled the game perfectly, including when Lazio came back into the contest.

For sure, you need to get through that moment when the opposition come at you and that's precisely what you need to add to your game and do what least comes naturally to us, i.e. defending. 

Everybody did well at that moment, and Kostas Manolas and Antonio Rudiger in particular were exceptional.

Stephan El Shaarawy, Edin Dzeko, Alessandro Florenzi and Diego Perotti were all on the scoresheet, so it was telling Spalletti opted to single out Rudiger for his performance. It shows just how highly rated he is in Rome.

Highlight Reel

Don't just take our word for it—check out Rudiger's highlight reel below.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes.

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