Our former captain called time on his 11-year stay at Manchester City this summer to return to his boyhood club as player-manager.
Speaking ahead of the first pre-season friendly of 2019 against West Ham, the City boss again reiterated his praise for a player who left an indelible mark at the Etihad Stadium and revealed the two remain in contact.
“A little bit! But that’s life, no?” said Guardiola when asked if it was strange to be without the Belgian in China.
“He decided to start his career in management, but we are in touch regularly and his achievements at this football club will never be forgotten.”
The West Ham clash provided City fans with a first glimpse of new signing, Rodri, who was named in the starting XI in Nanjing, where he was deployed in midfield alongside the experienced David Silva and Academy graduate, Tommy Doyle.
Signed from Atletico Madrid, the 23-year-old arrived in Manchester having established himself as one of La Liga’s brightest prospects and Guardiola believes he has a player who can benefit his side in a multitude of ways.
“He is a tall guy, which for a short team like we are is very good,” the boss explained.
“Good for set-pieces, but that’s not why we bought him.
“He is young, a typical holding midfielder who is so quick in his thinking. We expect him to have a long career with our Club.
“Since we arrived, we tried to get players who are 21, 22, or 23 – he is in the national team and in Spain they call him the second Busquets, so I think we have a good player.”