With Antonio Rüdiger (29), a German international will once again be playing for Real Madrid from the coming season. The central defender on his new number, the decisive conversation with Ancelotti – and his decision against Barça.
Antonio Rüdiger was unveiled as Real Madrid’s new player on Monday lunchtime, with the centre-back looking to continue his successful German history with the royals. After passing his medical at the Hospital Universitario Sanitas La Moraleja, the German international presented himself to Spanish journalists for the first time.
As a highlight video of Rüdiger was played in the packed hall, the defensive specialist had a perpetual smile on his lips. Then, at 12.51pm, Real president Florentino Perez stepped in front of the microphone and rejoiced at the arrival of a player “who makes us even stronger”.
Rüdiger was a “fantastic player who leaves his soul on the pitch”. Perez, who specifically thanked Chelsea’s “friends”, predicted Rudiger would face the “biggest challenge of your career”.
To applause, Rüdiger then addressed the plenum with a few first words in English. He emphasised his parents, whose “unconditional support” had brought him this far. In Madrid, Rüdiger wanted to “win as many titles as possible”. Finally, he sang the famous “Hala Madrid”.
Rüdiger, who has signed a four-year contract in Madrid until 2026, will wear the number 22 for the first time in his professional career with the Blancos. At Chelsea, the Berlin native played with the number 2 – a number Rüdiger now also wears in the German national team. During his time at VfB Stuttgart, Rüdiger wore the number 24. At Real, the 2 has been occupied by right-back Dani Carvajal since the 2016/17 season.
Why didn’t Rüdiger take Marcelo’s 12?
Why did Rüdiger choose that particular number, he was asked at the press conference following the performance. “I just like the number 2. There was only the choice between 12 or 22. I decided on 22 without thinking about the pressure that might come with it,” Rüdiger admitted. Until the end of this season, Marcelo, the most successful professional in Real’s club history, wore 12. 22 was worn since the 2015/16 season by Isco, who will now also be leaving the royals.
Interested in signing Rüdiger, meanwhile, were many. Even from Real’s arch-rivals, something the centre-back made no secret of. “There was interest from Barcelona, but I told my brother: Real or nothing.” In September, the Royals would have made contact for the first time via Rudiger’s advisor, his half-brother Sahr Senesie, and then in April the German international spoke directly to coach Carlo Ancelotti: “That was the most important moment when I decided to play for Real. “
This is quite explosive: On 6 and 12 April, Chelsea still met Real in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and were eliminated in extra time after a great comeback at the Bernabeu – Rüdiger scored directly on his very first appearance there. The defender was asked if those games had not been difficult with the decision in mind: “To be honest, it was easy. Nothing was signed at that point.” Even if it had been, he was “fully professional” in that respect.
Rüdiger is “self-confident” about the competition with the proven duo Eder Militao and David Alaba. “I’m looking forward to the competition,” said the former VfB professional, who now wants to learn Spanish as quickly as possible.