Man City Opinion: Citizens have struck gold with the signing of Rodri
According to BBC, Man City have completed the signing of Spanish international midfielder Rodrigo Hernandez from Atletico Madrid for a club-record fee of £62.8 million, with reports claiming that the Citizens successfully managed to beat off competition from a number of top sides in Europe to bring the Spaniard to the Etihad.
Rodri, who has penned a lucrative five-year deal with the reigning Premier League champions, becomes Pep Guardiola’s second signing of the summer following the return of left-back Angelino from PSV Eindhoven. (h/t BBC)
The staggering fee spent on Rodri eclipses the £60 million that Man City splashed out to bring Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City last summer. As a matter of fact, the 23-year-old becomes the fifth most expensive buy for any team in the history of the Premier League.
Pep Guardiola has been in the market for a defensive midfielder since the start of the last season and, while the Citizens failed to get deals over the line for the likes of Fred, Jorginho and Frenkie de Jong (h/t Manchester Evening News), the champions have finally managed to bag a massive coup with the club-record acquisition of Rodri.
The 23-year-old’s consistently impressive performances at the Wanda Metropolitano have seen his stocks soar sky-high over the past few campaigns and City’s decision to trigger his release clause is likely to spark wild celebrations amongst the fans in the blue half of Manchester.
The Citizens desperately needed to make a statement signing to ensure that they had all their bases covered heading into the upcoming season and the arrival of Rodri is expected to solve a major headache in a key area of the pitch for Guardiola.
Rodri was released by Atletico as a 16-year-old for being too small but he fought back from that setback early in his career and furthered his development in the youth ranks at Villarreal.
The midfielder rose to prominence with his consistently impressive performances for Villarreal in the La Liga and made a total of 84 appearances over the course of thee campaigns before returning to Atletico Madrid last summer.
Rodri excelled with flying colours in his first season at Wanda Metropolitano, having established himself as a regular starter at the heart of the midfield under manager Diego Simeone. The 23-year-old produced some eye-catching performances over the course of his 47 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring thrice in the process.
Why Man City needed him?
As we have seen over the years, the entire stability of Pep Guardiola’s preferred 4-3-3 system hinges on the No.6 role at the heart of the midfield.
Fernandinho, with his industrious nature, high footballing IQ and well-rounded passing and tackling abilities have been City’s undisputed go-to man for that position for a long time now. However, it is a no-brainer that, at 33, it is time for the Brazilian to pass the baton on to somebody else.
Guardiola used Ilkay Gundogan to fill in that all-important role last season when Fernandinho was on the sidelines and the German proved that he has the necessary attributes to replace the Brazilian in the near future.
However, given that the 28-year-old is in the final year of his contract at the Etihad and talks between the player and the club over a new deal have so far failed to reach a positive end, the onus was on Guardiola to look for alternatives.
Hence, it is easy to see why Rodri, who is an out-and-out defensive midfielder by trade, could go on to play a key role for the reigning champions in the years to follow.
What would he bring to City?
As mentioned earlier, Rodri is a defensive midfielder tailor-made to achieve success in any top European league and the fans can certainly expect him to fit into Fernandinho’s shoes brilliantly. A technically-gifted midfield enforcer, the 23-year-old’s style of play has been likened to Barcelona star Sergio Busquets.
Standing at 6ft. 3 inches with a towering frame, Rodri is quite quick and agile for a player of his stature, and that, coupled with his positional sense and tactical intelligence allows him to deal effectively with the transitions in play.
As well as his impressive range of passing and ability to dictate the tempo of the game with a sense of authority, the 23-year-old is also a very good tackler and succeeds in breaking up the play with effortless ease more often than not.
Noted for his ability to hold things together in the middle of the park, the former Atletico star not only excels with his ball-retention skills but he also knows how to use possession well, although his returns in terms of goals and assists do not necessarily do justice to that part of his game. As a matter of fact, Rodri created a total of 17 chances in the La Liga last season.
Looking at the statistics, Rodri completed an overly impressive 103 tackles in the La Liga this past season, which was the most by any player.
To add to that, he won possession back for his team a staggering 280 times, the second-highest by any player in the division, while the 23-year-old’s grand total of 1756 successful passes (91.1 % accuracy) was the 6th highest by any player in Spain.
Going by the statistics, it is easy to see why Man City have, indeed, struck gold with the signing of Rodrigo Hernandez.
While he might take a bit of time to acclimatise to his new surroundings, City should not worry too much about that because they are likely to have the services of Fernandinho at their disposal for at least one more season.
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Rodri is only going to get better with time and at 23, he still has loads of time to make significant improvements to his game. All in all, this looks like an incredible signing on paper.