While Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum will add some much needed athleticism and guile to the Magpies’ engine room, reinforcements are still desperately needed in central defence. One of United’s rumoured targets is said to be Stuttgart’s 22-year-old Antonio Rudiger, who is also attracting interest from Chelsea, Manchester United and Porto.
So, what is there to know about Rudiger? Here, we’ve complied a factfile on the German youngster.
- Rudiger was born on 3rd March 1993 in Berlin, Germany and was of dual nationality, also qualifying as a Sierra Leone citizen through relatives. This has since expired though under FIFA regulations, after making his competitive debut for Germany last year.
- His first club was amateur German side VfB Sperber Neukolln Jugend before spells at SV Tasmania Berlin and Neukollner Sportfreunde 1907.
- In 2006, Rudiger joined Hertha Zehlendorf, a Berlin based club renowned for developing a number of international players such as Christian Ziege and brothers Robert and Niko Kovac.
- Rudiger’s next port of call was Borussia Dortmund, where he featured for their Under 17, 18 and 19 youth team.
- However after failing to win a professional contract with the German giants, he moved to fellow Bundesliga side Stuttgart in 2011.
- In that season, Rudiger would make four appearances for the club’s Under-19 team.
- After 22 appearances and three goals for Stuttgart’s reserve side, Rudiger signed a professional contract with the club.
- He made his professional league debut for Die Roten (The Reds) against Borussia Monchengladbach in January 2012.
- The following season Rudiger would appear 20 times in all competitions before representing Germany’s Under-21 side at the European Championships. However he couldn’t prevent his national side from crashing out at the group stages.
- Rudiger’s potential was quickly recognised by Stuttgart, who in April 2013 offered him a contract extension until June 2017.
- After agreeing terms, he asserted himself as a vital member of Stuttgart’s squad during the 2013/14 campaign, turning out 30 times and scoring two goals in the Bundesliga.
- At the age of 21, Rudiger made his international debut for Germany against Poland in a 2014 World Cup warm-up match.
Despite being restricted to 19 appearances last season due to injury, Rudiger continued to be a shining light in an otherwise struggling Stuttgart side, who finished just one point above the relegation play-off zone. With reports suggesting Rudiger has made the club known he wants a move away from the Mercedes-Benz Arena, bigger things are expected for the 22-year-old.
At six foot three inches, comfortable in possession and exceptionally quick across the ground, Rudiger appears to have all the tools required to become a top defender. German fans point to his decision making and concentration levels as the major weaknesses in his game, but with the right coaching, he could improve on both as he matures in the coming years.
If rumours are to be believed and Chelsea are indeed interested, you would have to say Jose Mourinho would be the ideal manager to help Rudiger master the art of defending. However, would he get enough match time at Stamford Bridge? With the European Championship’s next summer, Rudiger’s next move will be pivotal in deciding whether he makes the Germany squad or not.
At least at United he would be guaranteed first-team football, as well as a great platform to showcase his talents in front of 50,000 fans each week. Stuttgart though, hold a strong bargaining position with two years still to run on his contract.
However, after the significant investment made in Wijnaldum by the Toon and more quality additions promised this summer, what’s not to say Rudiger cannot be persuaded to Tyneside before the transfer window slams shut on 1st September.
Would you like to see Antonio Rudiger at Newcastle?