Antonio Rudiger says Chelsea’s summer transfer activity has sent a message to the players already at the club that they need to step up. Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, and Malang Sarr have already joined the Blues in this window, with Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz expected to follow.
Chelsea took plenty of positives from the 2019-20 campaign but, having finished 33 points off the top and with the worst defensive record in the top half, there is plenty for Frank Lampard to improve.
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After strengthening his squad considerably in the transfer market, Rudiger knows Lampard will now be expecting the rest of his players to step up. “I am always happy to see new faces in the team,” Rudiger told Transfermarkt.
“After the transfer ban last summer, we were of course hoping to get some real reinforcements. With Hakim, I immediately had a good feeling and my relation to and opinion about Timo is already known.
“With such names, the club is also sending a clear message to the existing personnel that they want to take another step forward in the overall development. I think that is great!”
With big-spending comes even bigger expectations. Chelsea were satisfied with a top-four finish last season, but have already been warned that people will be expecting them to challenge for the title this time around.
Rudiger was asked if Chelsea see themselves challenging with Europe’s biggest clubs once again – last season saw them thrashed 7-1 on aggregate by Bayern Munich in the Champions League – but the German defender says this isn’t an immediate goal.
“That will certainly be a big challenge,” he said. “We don’t want to set something like this as our direct target. We simply want to be even better than last season, in any case, to get closer to the best teams in Europe.
“We have already shown that we can keep up with the very best in single matches. What is missing is consistency throughout the season, but that is somehow normal for our relatively young squad.”
“What Liverpool and Manchester City have shown over the past few years, you have to take your hat off to them,” Rudiger added. “That has my greatest respect – but I don’t expect these two teams to dominate everything for the next few years.
“Manchester United could move closer in the long term with consistent performances like after the corona break, and we shouldn’t forget Tottenham. Then there’s also us, who want to close the gap step by step.”