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Chelsea v Liverpool

Rudiger eager to get better of 'best in the Premier League' Salah

11:00 GMT+3 05/05/2018
Antonio Rudiger Chelsea
The pair played together for Roma before moving to England last summer and will come face-to-face at Stamford Bridge on Sunday

Antonio Rudiger retains his friendship with former Roma team-mate Mohamed Salah but is eager to keep him quiet when they meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. 

Salah and Liverpool arrive in west London fresh off securing a place in the Champions League final after a 7-6 aggregate win over Roma.

Though the Egypt international failed to find the net at Stadio Olimpico he still has netted on 43 occasions this term, with his form earning him both the PFA and Football Writers' Player of the Year awards.

And Chelsea defender Rudiger agrees that those prizes are deserved having noticed a huge improvement in Salah's game since they shared a dressing room in the Italian capital.

"We all know how important this game is and we are all looking forward to it," Rudiger told Goal, as he helped launch Stamford Bridge's new sensory room. 

"Salah is at the moment, for me, the best player in the league, but it is not only him that plays for Liverpool.

"We are very good [friends]. He was already good in Roma, but when he was there he would sometimes miss chances. But this year he is very, very clinical as well as being more strong than he was in Rome.

“I am very happy to play against him, because also it is a big game. This is why I play football.

"But they also have [Roberto] Firmino, [Sadio] Mane and the guys at the back. They have a great team, scoring a lot of goals.”

Rudiger has taken well to his first season in the Premier League and has arguably made the best impact of all Chelsea's new recruits this season.

He was the first of two new arrivals from Roma, with Emerson Palmieri also making the move from the Giallorossi in January.

The full-back has impressed having come into the first team in recent weeks following Marcos Alonso's suspension, though Rudiger believes Emerson will need more time than either himself or Salah to fully adapt having only recently recovered from a cruciate ligament injury.

"First of all, you have to let him play. What I can say is that he did well because he has been here since January and he's only had four starts.

"It is not easy when you are on the bench and you come on, like in the Man City game. That's not easy but I think he has done well. It is important for him to stay match fit and then wait for his chance. 

"First of all, these good performances are because of him. I don't want to make myself seem important but I try to help him because we speak the same language [Italian] and he is not so confident in his English.

"So that's the perfect mix and I can speak with him during games and give him directions. At the end of the day he made very good performances [for himself].

"I always try to get on well with my mates in the dressing room. Of course, you can't like everyone. But here I do. They are funny guys and I think you have to make a good atmosphere in the dressing room because we see each other every day.

"You can make the dressing room like a funeral and, of course, we are not happy with the bad results. At the end of the day, you still have to go on."

Roma's performances have shocked many in the Champions League, which peaked as they came back from 4-1 down to beat Barcelona on away goals in the quarter-final. 

Rudiger says that he was watching his former club closely, but that he has no regrets on missing the Italian club's impressive campaign, which also saw them see off competition from Chelsea to top their group. 

"It was very emotional for myself. I didn’t show it, but [I felt it] inside," he said of the Blues' matches against Roma in October.

"I played there, so I know what the environment is there. You play against a big team [when you face them]. Their fans are totally different to what I see in England.

"In life I think everything happens for a reason. Last year Roma were in the Europa League, so there was no chance to play against Chelsea."

Chelsea's newly launched sensory room, which sits in the East Stand at Stamford Bridge, aims to help families with children that have additional sensory needs, like autism, to experience the games in a more peaceful environment. It opens for the first time as Chelsea host Liverpool this weekend.