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Rüdiger: “There was interest from Barça, but I said it was Real Madrid or nothing”

The centre-back had his first press conference as a Real Madrid player.

FBL-ESP-REALMADRID-RUDIGER Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Antonio Rüdiger had his first press conference as a Real Madrid player on Monday afternoon, after completing a medical and signing his contract alongside Florentino Pérez. Speaking to the media, in English, the centre-back first explained how happy he is to join Los Blancos.

He said: “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 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.”

Rüdiger on the pressure of playing for Real Madrid

Arriving at the European champions brings a certain type of pressure, but Rüdiger isn’t worried. He explained: “I was in the trophy cabinet 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.”

Rüdiger on the negotiations for his transfer

Rüdiger arrives as a free agent and he explained how he reached the point of deciding to move to the Spanish capital. He confirmed that he didn’t speak with any of his former teammates, like Thibaut Courtois or Eden Hazard, but he did have a talk with Carlo Ancelotti.

Discussing the whole process, he said: “The first time I got in contact, not myself but through my agent, was early September the first time. The second time was when I spoke with Ancelotti in April. 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.”

That means the Germany international was in talks with Real Madrid at the time of the 2021/22 Champions League quarter-final between the Spanish club and Chelsea, but he insisted that this wasn’t an issue, saying: “It was easy to focus on that game. I’m professional. It was a very intense game, my first game playing at the Santiago Bernabéu. 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.”

He also revealed that Barcelona did try to sign him as a free agent, but that his heart was set on Real Madrid. When asked about the Catalan club, he replied: “Yes, there was interest from Barça. But I told my brother it’s Real Madrid or nothing.”

Rüdiger on the competition he’ll face

Real Madrid already have many talented defenders and centre-backs, but the competition doesn’t faze Rüdiger, who said: “Of course Real Madrid is stacked with very good players, in my position as well. But, I am confident. What do I bring? Competition, which is healthy for everyone and keeps everyone going. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to the challenge. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I have to come here this first year and adapt. I will also do my best to communicate in Spanish.”

Rüdiger on LaLiga Santander

Rüdiger has played in Germany, Italy and England already, so is now looking forward to trying a new league and said: “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 LaLiga, 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.”

Rüdiger on his idols

Asked who his favourite Real Madrid players were growing up, he said: “When I grew up everybody wanted to be a striker so everybody wanted to be Ronaldo Nazário. But, I’d mention Zidane too. His goal against Leverkusen was art. There were a lot of top top centre-backs too, but one who I liked was Pepe. From what I heard, out of the pitch he’s a very nice person and on the pitch he’s a monster. I like that. I like to laugh and dance, but I don’t joke around on the pitch.”

Rüdiger on picking the No.12

The numbers 12 or 22 were available and Rüdiger has gone for the latter. Asked if that he because he hadn’t wanted to take Marcelo’s shirt, the defender explained he hadn’t even thought of that, stating: “I like the number 2, so it was between 12 or 22. I was not really thinking about the pressure. For me, it’s that 22 looks nice.”