Real Madrid Transfers: A cheaper, experienced Antonio Rudiger alternative who is still free

Chelsea, Antonio Rudiger (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Chelsea, Antonio Rudiger (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid have been linked heavily with Chelsea center back Antonio Rudiger, but there is now reason to believe the club is no longer interested in the German international. Or maybe Los Blancos never were; they were just being used as a leverage ploy against Chelsea in contract negotiations.

Whatever the case, it appears Real are not after Rudiger. Because now, one of the most reliable reporters on the Madrid beat, Jose Luis Sanchez, is also reporting that the Merengue club is not interested in Rudiger. But more surprising than that, JLS relays that Los Blancos do not want to sign a center back at all next summer.

We will see about that. This is a real possibility, because not only have David Alaba and Eder Militao been damn good, but there are also plenty of up-and-coming Castilla center backs. Marvel is one receiving hype. Rafa Marin is another. Beyond the youngsters, Los Blancos also have Nacho Fernandez as a veteran hand.

But let’s say Real want to hedge their bets on a center back. Let us also say that, as with Rudiger, they do not want to pay a big transfer fee. So Jules Kounde and even Matthijs de Ligt and Pau Torres are off the table. Let us also say Real want to sign someone relatively young who can make it through a four-year contract without decline.

Enter Matthias Ginter.

Matthias Ginter is one of the most skilled center backs you’ll find

Though a reunion with Borussia Dortmund is far more likely for the German center back, Ginter would be a much cheaper alternative to Rudiger in terms of salary. And he is another player on an expiring contract. Rudiger is fully expected leave Chelsea, whereas Ginter’s exit from Borussia Monchengladbach is already a guarantee.

Ginter is not at the level of quality Rudiger is, and he is only one year younger at 27. However, he has actually been better than Rudiger before the latter’s breakout under Thomas Tuchel in the 2020-2021 season (and beyond).

On top of that, Ginter is versatile. He can play at right back in pinch. And that sounds like something that can help Real Madrid. Unlike some players, Ginter is actually good in other positions, because he is an elite athlete. He is fast, strong, and can both carry and pass the ball. Ginter has been underrated for a very long time in the Bundesliga, where he is famous for having the skills of a midfielder.

That sounds like someone who should intrigue Real Madrid as a free signing. It is valid to wonder if he has the quality to start for the club, but as a third center back who offers something different to Nacho, he could be a bargain find.

When Ginter left for Gladbach several years ago due to high competition in the squad, he may have made a big mistake. Because if he never left, he could have been a rock at the heart of the Dortmund defense by now – a kind of player they are very much missing right now. And you wonder if his reputation would have been a lot higher at Dortmund than at Gladbach, where it is too easy for a defender to become invisible to the press.

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So tuck away Ginter in the back of your mind. He is experienced, a little younger, and should be significantly cheaper salary-wise. Real Madrid may have to back off if their friends Dortmund are involved – they love getting former Gladbach guys, including their most recent two full-time managers – but Madridistas should not ignore Ginter as a center back option. He has some intriguing tools and has a more consistent body of work than Rudiger, even if his 2021 was not nearly as impressive as the Chelsea man’s.