Pep Guardiola believes that Rodrigo may be the best holding midfielder in the world after another starring performance in the victory over Red Star Belgrade.

City began our defence of the Champions League trophy with a 3-1 victory over the Serbian champions with two goals from Julian Alvarez before Rodrigo wrapped up the win with a third.

After scoring the winner in last season’s final to secure the trophy, it was another well-taken goal as he sidefooted a low strike beyond Red Star keeper Omri Glazer.

But his all-round performance in the centre of midfield earned him another deserved man of the match award and Guardiola doesn’t think there’s anyone better in his position on the planet.

“Right now, yeah, he is the best,” the City boss said. “Hopefully he can be better and improve but he is an extraordinary holding midfielder.

“We were lucky the club signed this player and when he arrived he was not this type of player.


“Of course he play an amount of games and now he is one of the captains. He is a top class player.

“The goal is top class but defensively, offensively he reads the play and spaces and knows exactly where men are free.

“Close to the box he is so dangerous. He loves to arrive in the final third and dribble and shoot. He is playing really, really well.”

The Spaniard had a new partner in midfield with summer signing Matheus Nunes making his first start for his new club and debut at the Etihad.

It was a strong performance as he helped City dominate possession as we had 37 attempts on goal and 104 attacks and Guardiola was encouraged by his start.

 “Matheus played his first game [after] not much time,” he added. “He has a special quality like Mateo [Kovacic] and Kevin [De Bruyne] to run with the ball and then stop.

“He has time to improve and we believe he can do more than sometimes he does.”

However, there was disappointment for his Portugal team-mate Bernardo Silva, who was forced off just before half-time and Guardiola doesn’t expect him to be available for Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

“I didn’t speak to the doctor but apparently for the next game he will not be available to play,” the boss said.

He joins an injury list that has seen De Bruyne, John Stones, Kovacic and Jack Grealish unavailable since the international break.

“We have five important players injured,” Guardiola said. “Sustaining that for a long time will be difficult but it is what it is.

“We cannot have 35 players because that will be chaos for the clubs and go bankrupt.

“Unfortunately it’s long time for Kevin, John didn’t play, maybe Kova is coming back, Jack has a week or 10 days.

“It is what it is. I prefer to use everyone and with the players that we have, go for it.”