Rodri looked a much relieved man after the last whistle was blown in the Champions League final. The 26-year-old Spanish midfielder’s goal in the 68th minute had secured the historic treble for the relentless Cityzens.
It also marked the end of a wonderful season for the former Atletico Madrid player, who has blossomed into the best defensive midfielder in the world during the last few years at the Etihad Stadium. He has always been reliable with his tackles and interceptions, but has developed himself into a quality deep-lying playmaker under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage.
Rodri is the key to Manchester City’s midfield
Rodri has played in 56 matches this season for the Cityens, which is more than any other player’s tally for the club. He has partnered John Stones as a holding midfielder in City’s 3-2-4-1 formation. While Stones has been more mobile and shifted to the right flank at times, Rodri has primarily stationed himself in the central areas and pulled the strings astutely with his wide passing range.
He has also developed the ability to send crosses into the opposition penalty box from the middle third and occasionally take shots at the goal from the edge of the penalty box. He scored the match-winner against Inter in the above manner. His return of four goals and eight assists are solid for a defensive-minded player and underlines his importance for the club.
Rodri can already be compared to legends of the past
Rodri has a glittering collection of silverware while playing for the brilliant Manchester City side and that is likely to grow further in the coming years. He has been doing what legendary players like Andrea Pirlo, Fernando Redondo and Sergio Busquets did for their respective clubs during the past few decades.
While Rodri does not boast the silken skills and vision of Pirlo, he has a better work-rate and is also a better physical specimen than the Italian. He is also more of a goal-scorer than Redondo ever was and is a better tackler than Busquets. He could actually be the ideal player to replace Busquets in the set-up of the Spanish national team.
It is almost astounding to start being compared favorably with such legends at such a young age and the Spaniard should be proud of his achievements. He can also be proud of the fact that he is the most consistent player at the most consistent club in world football.
The path ahead for him
It can be safely assumed that Rodri is going to stay at Manchester City for the next few years. He signed a five-year contract with the club in 2022 and is probably not eager to leave anytime soon. Guardiola, who is a tactical genius of the highest order, has ushered in yet another new era with the English club by making his team switch to a 3-2-4-1 from a 4-2-3-1 and a number of other clubs could start copying that approach in the future.
Rodri remains central to this very idea and his wonderful performances have already elevated his status in world football. The Man City supporters will not be complaining as long as he continues to deliver for their club.