Antonio Rudiger has claimed it was "Real Madrid or nothing" as he was official unveiled by the Spanish giants.
The German international’s Chelsea contract ran out at the end of last season and he was the subject of plenty of interest from across Europe. However, the lure of becoming a Real Madrid player was too strong for him to turn down.
“The first time I got in contact, not myself but through my agent, was early September. The second time was when I spoke with Ancelotti in April," Rudiger told a press conference.
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“I think that was the most important moment, to speak with Ancelotti and then I made my choice to play for this club and under him.”
Rudiger also revealed that there was interest in him from Barcelona, but said he was resolute in his determination to move to the Spanish capital.
He said: “Yes, there was interest from Barça. But I told my brother it’s Real Madrid or nothing."
The 29-year-old played at the Bernabeu in April 2022 while negotiations were on-going - the Champions League quarter-final second leg that Madrid would lose 3-2, but fight back from three goals down to make the semi-finals 5-4 on aggregate - and while Rudiger said he did not find that a distraction, he was left impressed by the support inside the ground.
“It was easy to focus on that game. I’m professional. It was a very intense game, my first game playing at the Santiago Bernabeu. It went quite well for me and my team. We scored the third goal, but the atmosphere was still positive, and the fans were still going strong. That was impressive.”
Real Madrid added a 14th Champions League title to their haul after a 1-0 win over Liverpool in May, and Rudiger said he knew already that he would be a Madrid player by that point, adding that he can deal with the pressure.
“I will give everything for the club and I want to win as many trophies as possible. It’s all about winning at Real Madrid. This is what they’ve demonstrated over the past years. We all dream of winning the Champions League and, even with a lot of doubts from outside, they still did the job last year.
“I don’t know how to describe [Real Madrid’s Champions League run]. It was unbelievable. I knew by the final that I was going to be a Real Madrid player, so I was rooting for them. I had lost with my former team [Chelsea] two finals against Liverpool, so I was happy that Real Madrid beat them. It also means we can compete next season for two more beautiful trophies.
“I was in the trophy cabinet [room] and there the pressure starts. But, you can’t run away from it. You have to try to enjoy it. I like feeling pressure. I’ve experienced pressure fighting relegation. This is good pressure.”
Rudiger joins two of his former Chelsea team-mates at Real Madrid in Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard, which will allow him to settle in quickly as he readies himself to tackle a fourth European league after playing in the Bundesliga with VfB Stuttgart, in Italy with Roma and in the Premier League with Chelsea.
The German says he is excited to adapt to a new league and a new challenge: “In Germany it was a lot of running and it was physical. Then, in Italy, it’s more about tactics and I learned to control the game. Then Premier League is wow. There’s a lot of games and high intensity.
"From looking at La Liga, you see very good football. Teams don’t all sit back. They press. It’s going to be a new challenge and I’m always open to new challenges."
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