Rudiger has been the key to Chelsea's recent success

Whether it’s trying to make Eden Hazard stay on live TV or dancing around a stadium on crutches, Antonio Rudiger is quite the character.

The Chelsea defender is beloved by fans for sprinting from corners as if his life depended on it and for charging the opposing half with the same enthusiasm.

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Rudiger has been the key to Chelsea’s recent success

The Blues star is one of football's most lively personalities

BT Sport

The Blues star is one of football’s most lively personalities

And he’s popular among his teammates for his larger-than-life personality.

Every Chelsea trophy since Rudiger’s arrival in 2017 appears to have been followed by a video of the defender cutting rather unusual shapes in the dressing room.

Following the 2018 FA Cup triumph, Rudiger shouted “Eden Hazard stays” during a joint interview with the former Blues idol, who ultimately ended up staying that summer.

Being injured for the 2019 Europa League final didn’t stop Rudiger from partying on crutches after dancing around the stadium on the back of a Chelsea staff member.

And his questionable dance moves were once again on display as Chelsea celebrated their recent Champions League and Super Cup successes, with Rudiger leading every celebration.

It’s that same energy off the pitch that makes him such a fierce leader – and for talkSPORT host Adrian Durham, there aren’t many better players in world football right now.

“If you watch Rudiger week after week you see him defending 100% solid and reliable,” he said.

“You see him come out with the ball, he’s brave on the ball, he comes out in charge, it’s a pleasure to watch.

“Is he a big part of a winning team? Yes. They are at the top of the table, having conceded half the number of goals Liverpool have scored.

“And did he silence Mo Salah when Chelsea faced Liverpool?” Yes he did. Salah scored a penalty and with ten men, Chelsea defended superbly.

“Who is the best center-half in the Premier League?” It’s not Virgil van Dijk. For me, it’s Rudiger. He is a reborn player.

“At the moment, I don’t see a better footballer in his place. ”

Rudiger's injury didn't stop him from celebrating his Europa League win

GETTY

Rudiger’s injury didn’t stop him from celebrating his Europa League win

And he is not alone. Legendary Manchester United center-back Rio Ferdinand believes the Chelsea star has been the Premier League’s best defender in recent months.

He said: “Since Tuchel arrived I think he is arguably the best center-back.

“I think he and Dias would have been close, but the effect he had on his team was immense.

«Sous Frank [Lampard], it was obvious that he was not Frank’s cup of tea. He didn’t really like her. There were rumors that were trying to put it on the market to be sold.

“In Germany it has always been very popular. But when the manager isn’t rating you and you can feel it, I don’t care who you are, your confidence takes a beating and it’s hard to perform at that level.

Rudiger constantly jokes with his teammates

BT Sport

Rudiger constantly jokes with his teammates

However, despite his exceptional quality and popularity, Chelsea could lose Rudiger for free next summer.

The 28-year-old is without a contract and available on a free transfer next summer as it stands.

He is cleared to negotiate with foreign clubs in January, after rejecting an offer worth £ 125,000 a week at Stamford Bridge.

Madrid are looking for a new center-back after losing Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

And according to Marca, the Spanish giants intend to open talks with Rudiger when the winter window opens.

One thing is certain, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel won’t be the only one to be gutted if he leaves.

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