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Carlo Ancelotti hints at new position for Antonio Rudiger after Chelsea transfer

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Carlo Ancelotti hints at new position for Antonio Rudiger after Chelsea transfer

Antonio Rudiger made his Real Madrid debut playing left-back after manager Carlo Ancelotti deployed the former Chelsea defender in a new position.

Los Blancos were beaten 1-0 by bitter rivals Barcelona in an ill-tempered pre-season friendly on Saturday in Las Vegas. Rudiger made his first start for Real upon joining the newly-crowned European champions on a free transfer, signing a lucrative four-year deal at the Santiago Bernabeu after his contract with Chelsea expired in June.

And while the 29-year-old was tipped to shore up Ancelotti’s rearguard by starting at the heart of the defence, the Los Blancos boss stuck with Eder Militao and David Alaba at centre-back. Their steady partnership, formed after Sergio Ramos ‘ move to Paris Saint-German last year, helped Real win a record 14th European crown in May, beating Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final.

‘I liked him [Rudiger] a lot. I am not crazy, and he is brilliant,” Ancelotti explained when asked about the decision post-match. “He can play in that position, just as he can also change in the match with Alaba. They didn’t do so today because it went well. [Alaba] as a left-back… only when necessary. I don’t want to change the pair from last year.”

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The new role isn’t unfamiliar to Rudiger, having starred on the left-hand side of a three-person defence for Chelsea. Having also played right-back for Germany, the Stuttgart-born defender looked relatively comfortable down the opposite flank. However, his man – Raphinha – scored the only goal of the game for Barcelona.

The Brazilian netted a stunning long-range strike in the 27th minute, showing why Camp Nou chiefs stumped up £56million to sign him from Leeds United. Rudiger was then substituted with eight other teammates at half-time, as Ferland Mendy – a left-back by trade – replaced him.

Chelsea offset the German’s departure by signing 31-year-old Napoli captain Kalidou Koulibaly after manager Thomas Tuchel also waved goodbye to Andreas Christensen – another trusted centre-back – when the Dane, 26, joined Barcelona no less. The Blues have their sights set on Jules Kounde to replace him, with Tuchel admitting that his squad needs bolstering before September 1’s deadline.

After being thrashed 4-0 by London rivals Arsenal in Orlando, the Chelsea boss lamented: “My analysing of the season does not change because of this game. Unfortunately, it proved my point. The last week proves my point. I would prefer not to be correct. I did everything to prove myself wrong, but now, I feel I was right.

“I look at the last season and parts of the game where we struggled, parts of the season where we struggled, and then we got sanctioned, and players left us, and some players are trying to leave us, and this is where it is. So we had an urgent appeal for quality players, a huge amount of quality players. We got two quality players, but we are not competitive like this. Unfortunately, you could see it today.”

Unfortunately for Tuchel, it’s believed that Barcelona led the race to sign France international Kounde from Sevilla, making new Blues owner Todd Boehly ‘s task of restoring the glory days at Stamford Bridge even tougher.

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