Saturday, June 25, 2022

“It was real or nothing”: Rüdiger on the cancellation of Barcelona

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Antonio Rudiger said the move from Chelsea to Real Madrid was a “big step” as he revealed he turned down an offer from his new club’s bitter rivals Barcelona.

The 29-year-old defender was unveiled in the Spanish capital on Monday afternoon after signing a four-year deal to join the European champions on a free transfer.

Rudiger, who turned down a lucrative new deal to stay at Stamford Bridge, was in demand across Europe but insisted he was never tempted by Barca advances.

The Germany international is enjoying the opportunity to represent La Liga giants Real and was reminded of the immense responsibility that comes with a visit to the club’s trophy cabinet.

“Yes, there was interest from Barcelona,” he said at a press conference. “But I told my brother it’s Real Madrid or nothing. What I can promise is that I will give everything for the club and I want to win as many trophies as possible.

“You’re coming to a big, big, massive club – that’s a huge step for me. But I try to enjoy the pressure. I consider myself lucky to be here doing what I love.

“I was in the Real Madrid trophy cabinet and that’s where the pressure starts. That’s something you can’t run away from. You have to try to enjoy it.”

Rudiger spent five trophy-rich seasons at Chelsea, winning the FA Cup, Champions League, Europa League, Super Cup and Club World Cup.

His agent was first in touch with Real last September before a talk with new manager Carlo Ancelotti in April convinced him to join the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, he didn’t take advice from former Chelsea teammates Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard or compatriot Toni Kroos on the move.

“That was the most important moment to talk to Mr. Ancelotti, and then I made my decision that I wanted to play for and under this club,” said Rüdiger.

“The conversation was that he wants me, trusts in my abilities and that I can help him and the team a lot. At my age, where I am right now, that’s enough. And at the end of the day, it’s Mr. Ancelotti.

“You know, in Madrid you will have competition and in general nothing is guaranteed, so you have to fight for your place and that’s why I’m here, I’m ready to do that.”

Rüdiger was accompanied in Madrid by his wife, children, parents and brother.

Club president Florentino Perez said representing Real will be the “biggest challenge” of the player’s career.

“This club attracts the best players in the world,” said Perez. “We are proud that this is the case and today is another example of a world-class footballer joining.

“You could have chosen any of many great clubs but you chose Real Madrid. Hopefully we can give them the opportunity to triumph where other clubs can’t.

“It will be the biggest challenge of your career. Now you will write another page in your history book. When you join this club and wear the Real Madrid emblem, you have a lot of responsibility.”

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