Rodri has potential, but could be Man City’s Fabinho

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.

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The Big four in the Premier League have been quiet in the transfer market

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The summer transfer window in the Premier League has been open since May 16th and in that time 7 weeks there hasn’t actually been that much activity between the top 4 clubs who finished in those places in the Premier League. The ones where you expect them to break the bank and make massive signings just like they have in the past.

Is FFP to blame? Or is it a case of the teams are simply not finding the right players at the right prices to try and compete? There haven’t been too many eye catching transfers in Europe either although the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool both aiming to dominate football and be the best would have risen an eyebrow to the highly talented Joao Felix signing for Atletico Madrid a few days ago. So the money is there or thereabouts but where is the quality this summer?

Of course the window does not shut yet but in England it has changed. Years ago the window used to close on August 31st even though the league had in all of those cases already started. The window now closes just before the league starts and that has been the new given rule in England. So it will close on August 8th. That is just 31 days away, and that goes very quickly, will we see more big deals go through or is that it?

Champions Manchester City who have spent close to £500m since Pep Guardiola became manager have brought in just two players. Angelino from PSV and their big one Rodri from Atletico Madrid. Angelino cost just over £5m but much is expected of Rodri who cost the club £63m. Give or take City have spent about £75m this summer on players, a lot of money but not nearly as much as City would usually spend.

Premier League runners up Liverpool have been very quiet buying just one player, Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle for just over £1m and it will be questionable if the player gets games in the league and he may be only used for the league cup. So manager Jurgen Klopp is keeping his chequebook closed but at the same time Liverpool do have a very strong team and he will be happy with what he has.

Chelsea managed 3rd place in the end in the league but unlucky for them they currently have a transfer ban from UEFA. It is something that the club are appealing but with days running out anyway it looks almost certain that the Blues will not be buying or be able to buy any new players this summer.

That leaves us with Tottenham. A team who went the past two transfer windows not buying anyone. Young prospect Jack Clarke has come from Leeds for just £10m but the big purchase has been for Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele who cost the club in the region of £55m, though that may rise.

All in all the big four clubs who finished in the top four last season have spent a combined £140m on players so far. Even taking into account Chelsea’s transfer ban this is a very low figure when you think of the TV deals that the clubs have been able to broker. We could also be fair and include Arsenal who finished 5th in place of Chelsea who can’t buy players.Yet even if we do this the Gunners have only spent £6m, with one player coming in on a free transfer.

Is the bubble finally bursting in the world’s most expensive league or should we remain more patient as the window closes by each passing day- either way we will find out soon enough.

Rodri is a boring, sensible signing, but that’s why City are so good in the transfer market

It had been rumoured almost from the very moment the 2018/19 season came to a close for Manchester City. In fact, there had been rumours even before then that the Premier League champions had identified Rodri as the man they wanted as their marquee addition this summer.

It’s easy to see why they were attracted to the midfielder. He is a player very much in the mould of a Pep Guardiola team, with many seeing Rodri as the natural successor to Sergio Busquets for Spain. At Atletico Madrid, Rodri showed his quality and capacity for the big time, but under Diego Simeone it felt like he was being held back somewhat.

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This won’t be the case at the Etihad Stadium. Rodri will now receive a footballing education like no other. Even players who have played at the top level for years talk about the shock of coming into a Guardiola side, but it is often players like Rodri, young, talented and hungry, who stand to benefit the most from this.

Not much fanfare greeted Rodri as he was officially announced as a Manchester City player earlier this week. That was largely down to the protracted nature of the transfer, with City’s pursuit of the 23-year-old reported as long ago as April. He is not a goalscorer or a flashy winger either.

Some might even say that City’s addition of Rodri is boring. But this is a symptom of what makes them so effective in the transfer market. Rodri was an obvious target for them. There was no surprise factor to their targeting of the Spanish international. He is a sensible, entirely logical addition.

Of course, City didn’t really need Rodri in the immediate term. Fernandinho had one of his best seasons for the club last term as the defending champions retained their crown with another incredible points tally. But Fernandinho is approaching his 35th birthday and so Man City saw the opportunity to secure his successor while they could.

The plan will be to ease Rodri in gently to his new surroundings. There is no need to drop him in at the deep end and perhaps by the end of the season he will have replaced Fernandinho in the City starting lineup. If not, that transition will happen some enough. The Etihad Stadium side might not be making many headlines with their transfer moves, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing the right thing.

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Rodri the signing Manchester City need

Just days after Manchester United spent £50 million on Aaron Wan-Bissaka, it appears as though neighbours Manchester City are about to land their first multi-million-pound transfer target in Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri. Although not yet official, Atletico practically confirmed the deal after unveiling new signing Marcos Llorente in Rodri’s No. 14 shirt. Continue reading

Recent rumours demonstrate the coherence of Man City’s transfer strategy

There’s a scene in the Amazon Prime docuseries ‘All or Nothing: Manchester City’ in which the curtain is pulled back on the club’s transfer methods. City Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain, is joined around a conference room table at the club’s Etihad Campus by various scouting and recruitment figures. In this setting they discuss the way forward in the transfer market.

A serious injury suffered by Benjamin Mendy has raised the prospect that a replacement might have to be signed in January. Begiristain and his staff, however, already have a shortlist of potential targets drawn up. This is the sort of holistic thinking that hasn’t just seen Man City spend big in recent years, but spend smart too.

Manchester City v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Group Stage - Group C

Recent rumours linking them with Rodri, Tanguy Ndombele and Florentino Luis underline this. None of these players would be the kind of blockbuster signings to truly excite supporters, but Man City need a central midfielder to eventually succeed the ageing Fernandinho and these three certainly fit the bill.

When City need a certain type of player, a player to fill a position, they draw up a list that gives them different avenues to explore. It could be that they are priced out of a move for Rodri by Atletico Madrid this summer, with the Spanish side desperate to keep the young midfielder. In that case, they would move on to Ndombele, who might be more affordable, or even Luis, who would be the easiest of the trio to lure given Benfica’s status as a selling club.

This sort of strategising is in stark contrast to what we see from some of City’s Premier League rivals, most notably Manchester United. The Old Trafford outfit have the resources to compete with Man City in the transfer market, but they lack the structure and approach of their rivals. Even now, with a summer overhaul expected, there is no sense of a plan in place at United like there is at City.

It’s unlikely that this summer will be a blockbuster one for Manchester City in the transfer market. The core of their team will remain, as it should, with only a handful of signings, at most, made. But it’s this gradual replenishment of the team that has sustained City as a force for so long and it looks set to continue, at least on the basis of recent rumours.

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Lemar “very happy” to join Atletico following Monaco exit

lemarNew Atletico Madrid star Thomas Lemar has vowed to change his style of play if required and said he is “very happy” to have finally sealed his transfer to La Liga. The former Monaco midfielder signed a contract to join Los Colchoneros during this summer’s World Cup in Russia, but the clubs had not formalised the deal until now. Lemar, who was well coveted with interest coming in from across Europe, signed on the dotted line at the same time as international team-mates Antoine Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez, who both extended their contracts in Madrid. Speaking at his official unveiling, he said “I’m very happy to be here. Antoine and Lucas have told me lots about the club. I’m very happy with the decision I made. Continue reading