Men's Team

'Exceptional' Rodrigo can get even better, says Guardiola

City manager Pep Guardiola believes that Rodrigo deserves to be bracketed amongst the finest holding midfielders operating in world football right now.

Our Spanish international has been in inspired form so far this season and was at his influential best again during last Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 Premier League win over Wolves.

A signing from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2019, the 25-year-old has gone from strength to strength in the ensuing two and a half years and has been a big factor in City’s rise to top spot in the Premier League table this term

And asked at his pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday’s latest Premier League clash at home to Leeds United if there were many better holding midfielders operating in world football right now, the boss was unequivocal in his verdict.

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“There are many, but one of them right now is Rodri absolutely,” Guardiola declared.

“Because he is 25 years old, he’s still young and his mentality, he’s a competitor, who can show it in every training session and game.

“He’s set up perfectly in the Premier League already. Last season as well and hopefully he can avoid a drop at the end like it happened, unfortunately, last season.

“But he’s playing in a top, top high level.”

The City boss also expanded on how vital the holding midfield role is in regards to the way we seek to play.

Guardiola also revealed that assistant coach Juanma Lillo had been working closely with Rodrigo to help him gain an even better insight into the holding midfield role and its requirements.

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And Pep also alluded that he believed there was even more potential to be unlocked with Rodri looking to the future.

“It’s so important. The guy who plays in the holding midfield, central defence, the strikes, all the positions in the middle of everything are so important,” Guardiola added.

“We've tried to help him with Juanma to understand the game, especially what the holding midfielder has to do.

“Last season he moved too much. The holding midfielder has to be there, don’t move - be there.

“Like if you drive a car and move to the back seat, you can crash. The driver has to be there in the front.

“He’s getting better reading the situation and defensively he has more presence.

“With the ball he knows exactly where the spaces are to attack and the tempo we have to play (at).

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“The holding midfielder sometimes need five touches, sometimes one, sometimes three and now he plays (with) this rhythm that helps our game.

“So far, he’s been exceptional but like always I say to him, he can be better.

“If he wants it it depends on him, but we’ll be here to help him.”

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