‘I wasn’t criticising Conte’ – Rudiger thinks Chelsea absence down to misunderstanding

The centre-back feels he was left out of the squad recently because his manager misinterpreted recent comments

Antonio Rudiger believes Antonio Conte mistook the defender’s recent comments as a personal criticism, leading to him being dropped from the Chelsea squad.

The centre-back was left out of Saturday’s 3-2 win over Southampton because he questioned the Blues’ inability to hold on to a lead in the wake of their previous draw with West Ham.

It is understood the Germany international will not be rested for Thursday’s trip to Burnley or Sunday’s FA Cup game against Southampton.

Instead, Rudiger believes he is being punished because of a misunderstanding as his comments were directed to the team as opposed to his coach.

Asked on  ZDF if he was absent from the squad because of what he said, Rudiger replied: “Probably. But I didn’t mean it that way.

“It was a fact, it wasn’t about the tactics. I did not attack anyone personally, I meant us as a team.

“I played quite a lot of games in recent weeks and months. This was a little break.”

The 25-year-old has been a key player for the Stamford Bridge side since joining from Roma last July and does not expect that to change, as his relationship with Conte remains the same.

“It’s just normal from my side. He’s my coach. I must respect him. And he’s a very, very good coach.”

Rudiger’s controversy began when he aired his frustration after his side surrendered a lead to draw 1-1 draw with West Ham, damaging their chances of finishing in the Premier League’s top four this season.

“I think in the second half we [could] finish the game [off]. But like the last few months, we didn’t and we [conceded],” he said.

“For me, it’s not easy to explain. I don’t understand why after 1-0 we always drop and let the opponent get more ball possession.”


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