Having spent somewhere close to £1 billion on new players in the past decade, this summer has been somewhat quiet for Manchester City. They have, by and large, left the transfer market bluster to others around them. They did, however, break their club transfer record to sign Rodri from Atletico Madrid.
The Spanish international looked like the perfect fit for Pep Guardiola’s style. He is good on the ball, possesses excellent positional awareness and a sharp footballing brain. Indeed, Rodri is a footballer built in the mould of the Catalan coach. It wasn’t a surprise that Guardiola was interested in him.
The 23-year-old made his competitive debut in the Community Shield win over Liverpool on Sunday. There were moments that hinted at the potential of the former Atleti midfielder, but he was also caught on the ball a few times. For all that Rodri’s brilliance cannot be doubted, it might take him a while to get used to his new surroundings.
He could find himself in a similar situation to that of Fabinho last season. He too was a big money summer signing designed to slot into Liverpool’s central midfield. However, the Brazilian was kept out of the starting lineup by Jurgen Klopp for a number of weeks as he adjusted to his new team. Rodri might experience the same thing.
“I think he has lots of talented players but maybe one of the things the team can get is more physical,” Rodri explained in an interview during Man City’s pre-season tour of Asia. “We have lots of players that are great or small and you never know if it’s good or bad, but having a mix of players is always good.
“Football is changing now. It’s getting more physical. It’s good for me to have that physique in the position I play. I noticed years ago that I had to become both a defensive and an attacking player if I wanted to be good enough to be in Manchester.”
The physicality is just one aspect Rodri will need to adapt to. He seemed somewhat surprised by the high pressing game of Liverpool in the Community Shield, losing the ball more than a couple times as a result. Man City face this on a near weekly basis in the Premier League and so Rodri will need to get better in this sense as well.
Fabinho ultimately played a crucial role in what was an historic season for Liverpool. Rodri has been bought with one eye on the long term future. He is seen as the natural successor to Fernandinho, but it might be a while before he fully embraces that role.
How well do you know English football? Want to challenge the best English Fantasy Managers? Play www.epl-fantasy.com now.