'I am growing a lot' – Rodri hails Guardiola impact at Manchester City
- November 23, 2019
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The club’s record signing admits adapting to the Premier League is challenging but he feels in good hands with the manager
Rodri believes Pep Guardiola is pushing his game to new heights at Manchester City.
Spain midfielder Rodri became City’s record signing when he joined from Atletico Madrid for £62.8million in July.
The 23-year-old has operated predominantly at the base of Guardiola’s midfield – a key position in City’s system and the role the coach himself occupied during his playing days at Barcelona.
Rodri has produced some eye-catching performances but also started each of City’s three Premier League defeats this term, including his return from a hamstring strain for Sunday’s 3-1 loss at Liverpool that leaves the reigning champions nine points shy of the runaway leaders.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of his country’s concluding Euro 2020 qualifiers against Malta and Romania, Rodri conceded he is enduring a fairly steep learning curve.
“I haven’t been there much time, but since the beginning of the season I have added a lot of new knowledge,” he said.
“[Guardiola] is how he shows himself in front of the cameras. He has a competitive edge, this desire to put pressure on the rivals, to study and analyse how to harm them. He is a workaholic, he dedicates the 24 hours of the day to his players, to himself and to find the way to win matches.
“At an individual level, it has helped me a lot that he played in the same position than me. He gives me lots of advice on how he sees football. I am growing a lot, not only tactically, but individually in many aspects I wasn’t aware that a central midfielder should have, like driving the ball – something that is demanded in the Premier League.
“Obviously there are more factors than the coach that have an influence, but we have the best coach in that sense.”
Injuries to the specialists in Guardiola’s squad also saw Rodri pressed into action as an emergency centre-back for consecutive games against Crystal Palace and Atalanta last month.
“I am discovering myself also as a player. Guardiola asked me how I see myself there [as central defender] and I decided to try because the team needed me,” he explained.
“Obviously there is always a time of adaptation, but because of my physical and technical characteristics, I also think that there is something in common with my normal position, apart from certain new aspects.
“It is true that the new position is a bit more delicate, but with time I think I could perfectly adapt myself.
“My virtues make me shine more as central midfielder, but with time I could also do well as central defender.”
For now, Rodri is ready to continue the challenge of establishing himself as an influential midfield presence in a league noted for its frenetic pace.
“The Premier League is, along with La Liga, the most competitive league,” he added.
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“This football is more vertical and makes you learn because you are not used to it. I am a more complete player.
“There are great teams in England that make you compete at the maximum level, the same as here in Spain. I feel I have a big room for improvement.”