With the winter transfer window now in full swing, emerging reports suggest that Chelsea are in commanding lead over Arsenal as far as the battle to land one of both club’s transfer targets goes.
Wolfsburg and Switzerland international left-back Ricardo Rodriguez has remained on Arsenal’s radar for a while, with the club preparing to make a summer transfer swoop for his services in order to prepare for life without Kieran Gibbs and the ageing Nacho Monreal.
Chelsea, however, got in contact with the player’s representatives, and are willing to fork out £21million in order to lure him to the Stamford Bridge this January.
As Conte makes his first move in an attempt to beat Arsenal to the signing of the Wolfsburg defender, many would be keen to know why the 24-year-old is a subject of much fuss.
If Rodriguez is successfully landed, he could be a deal well done for the Blues for so many reasons. For starters, Chelsea’s most reliable option at the moment at left wing-back is summer signing Marcos Alonso, with Cesar Azpilicueta now a permanent part of a 3-man central defence.
Ola Aina is the only other recognised option off the bench able to play the role, but his inexperience means he can’t be completely relied upon to act as a cover or provide stiff competition for the not-too-impressive Alonso. Hence, the need for a player like Rodriguez, who is well proven as an attacking left-back for both club and country, is quite rightly justified.
In 14 Bundesliga appearances in 2016-17 for Wolfsburg, Rodriguez has scored twice and assisted twice. The set-piece specialist has remained one of the finest full-backs over the recent years given how he is able to contribute immensely to the team’s attack, and there is no doubt that he will settle just well into the Chelsea team.
The Swiss boasts of 2 major strengths – crosses and key passes, and he can be another Victor Moses on the left flank. But a more defensive one; given that the player who has created 14 Bundesliga chances this term can actually defend despite having quality attacking strengths.
Rodriguez has won 16 tackles, made 21 interceptions, 30 clearances and 6 blocks this season. He has also won 13 headed duels thus far and comes across as a complete full-back.
His 45% shot accuracy and 85% pass accuracy are testaments to his attacking prowess, and he would definitely provide much-needed cover in that left wing-back position for Chelsea’s title run that is bound to get much tougher as the campaign progresses.
Rodriguez has been very vital to Wolfsburg and was very close to guiding them to the Champions League semifinals last season having scored a goal in the 2-0 first-leg win against Real Madrid, only for the Germans to lose 3-2 on aggregate. In 140 appearances for Wolfsburg, the Swiss international has weighed in an impressive 15 strikes.
Chelsea also can do with his physical strength and aerial abilities. His willingness to make tackles without often getting into the referee’s book will also come handy in the Premier League. And there is also his ability on the set-pieces.
Conte definitely knows Rodriguez can add a lot to Chelsea’s campaign, and securing his services would be a deal well done for the Blues as his European experience will also be useful when the club makes a return to the Champions League.