22 Defender VfL Wolfsburg Switzerland
2014 has been...
…a secret, ssshhh.
Ricardo Rodríguez is flying under the radar at the moment. Despite quietly becoming one of the best left-backs in the Bundesliga, despite now being nearly thirty caps into his international career, and despite being Swiss footballer of the year for 2014, he still feels a bit of a secret. He’s reached a level of consistency in line with his early brilliant form on emerging in 2012 with FC Zürich, and Wolfsburg have now got a player who gives a 7 out of 10 performance one week, 8 out of 10 the next.
He’s an unfussy player, hence the lack of hype perhaps, and we like him because this is a fullback who loves to defend. In modern football most in the position are in reality de-facto wingbacks; expected to attack and defend in equal measure. What this means is you often get lop-sided skill sets, we call it the Glen Johnson factor, but the players keep getting picked because of their talent at one end of the pitch outweighing the other. Ricardo Rodríguez does not subscribe to this, as capable on the front foot as the back and as happy in either role.
This season has started in normal fashion after a summer spent playing every minute of Switzerland’s World Cup campaign. First name on the team sheet and Mr. Consistency, we’re not sure he’s going to be a secret for much longer. Did we mention he can take penalties too?
When Wolfsburg signed him from FC Zürich in the January transfer window of 2012, we’re not sure they realised just what a bargain €7.5m would be. They are adamant he will not be sold in the future (General Manager Klaus Allofs moved to say in the summer on the subject of his contract till 2016 “it doesn’t matter if we aren’t able to agree a new deal with him, we will not agree to an early departure”) but at some point they are going to get an offer that will a) be too good to not consider and b) represent a vast profit on that original fee.
On that subject Chelsea made him their number one target to replace Ashley Cole in the summer but found Wolfsburg’s refusal to talk too difficult to break down. Bayern Munich are also long-term admirers, as are most of the big boys we’ll wager, and sooner or later he’s going to end up playing at a top-tier Champion’s League club. He would fit into most teams as things stands, he has proved adaptable enough to negotiate whatever’s been thrown at him so far and he would be the first name on the IBWM team-sheet if we had one.
So big things ahead but may continue to fly low for the rest of his career as he seems to have no desire to get any higher-profile than he has up until this point. We hope he’s ambitious enough to force through the move when he wants to take it, and we hope Wolfsburg will respect his decision. A wonderful footballer who shows every sign of continuing that for a long time to come, he’s the type of player who if he played for your team you would *love*. Just don’t tell anyone about him, ‘kay?
“The best fullback no one ever talks about. RR has future world-class defender written all over him. There is nothing he can't do on the field” – Cristian Nyari
"Ricardo Rodríguez played a hand in 14 goals during the 2013/14 Bundesliga season; more than any other defender in Europe." - OptaJoe
B Consistency many on this list would kill for, a huge move may well be coming, a great year, long may it continue.
A wide selection of Puma Trainers are at JD