Man City boss Pep Guardiola labels shock star as best in the world as he hails transformation since joining club
RODRI has been hailed as the best midfielder in Europe by Pep Guardiola.
The 27-year-old Spaniard produced a man of the match display for Manchester City on Wednesday in the Champions League.
The Etihad was silenced early on when Red Star Belgrade took the lead against the European champs.
However, Rodri stepped it up a gear after half time along with his team-mates to launch a comeback and defeat Red Star 3-1 in their opening group match.
The star, who joined City from Atletico Madrid in 2019, curled home his team’s third to seal victory.
And afterwards his manager was quick to heap the praise on Rodri – especially amid the injury crisis he is currently having to manage in his midfield.
Guardiola said: “Right now, yeah. He’s the best. Hopefully he can be better, he has a good mentality and things to improve but he’s an extraordinary holding midfielder.
“We were lucky the club signed this player and when he arrived he wasn’t this type of player.
“Of course he played a large amount of games and now he’s one of the captains of the team.
“He’s a fantastic holding midfielder. He’s a top class player, not just that, defensively, offensively, the composure, he reads the spaces, knows exactly when the men are free.”
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Guardiola added: “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. We have five important players injured. Sustaining that for a long time will be difficult but it is what it is.”
Guardiola was not the only one to hail Rodri.
Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand told TNT Sports that he was the “conductor” and the heartbeat of City’s team.
He said: “He was in complete control – he is the conductor of this team. I think everything good that happens in this team he is heavily involved everywhere, and his composure in all phases of the game is super impressive.
“Even today, the goal goes quickly around him and he caresses it into the bottom corner – it’s a majestic finish.
“He reminds me of that big kid in the playground who you just can’t get the ball off.
“That is what it must feel like when you are playing against him – it’s like in slow motion for him. It’s like watching a secondary school kid playing against primary school kids at times.”
Rodri himself discussed how Guardiola has played a huge role in his development over recent years.
He said: “The role is a difficult role. You have to learn by the years. I’m really happy with how I’ve grown in this position.
“You grow and understand more every year. It’s about not moving, always being the safety pass, being trusted by the teammate with a pass.
“The most important part is knowing the role. You have to grow in the position and understand the team you are playing in, but I think it speaks volumes of the staff and Pep, whoever comes here does well and adapts easy.”
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