EPL

'Best in the world' Guardiola helping Rodri through Premier League struggles

By Sports Desk May 07, 2020

Manchester City's record signing Rodri has been picking the brains of Pep Guardiola as he seeks to get to grips with the Premier League.

The 23-year-old Spain international has been a mainstay for Guardiola's men since joining City from Atletico Madrid last year, making 39 appearances in all competitions.

An elegant operator at the base of the midfield, Rodri has chipped in with some valuable goals – most notably a blistering strike from the edge of the box in a 4-1 win at Burnley and header that ultimately proved decisive in the 2-1 EFL Cup final win over Aston Villa.

However, the former Villarreal player has sometimes appeared ill at ease with the pace of the play around him, with Liverpool storming into a 25-point lead that left them on the brink of ending City's two-season reign as champions when the Premier League went on hiatus.

Whenever a resumption comes, Rodri feels he is working under the best man to learn and improve.

"To me, he is the best coach in the world. His success speaks for himself. Everything that he's won with all the clubs he's been at," he said.

"I have learnt lots of things from him, I couldn't say only one. He has lots of experience as a player and as a coach. It helps me a lot that he played in the same position as me.

"It's not easy for me as a young player, coming from LaLiga, to fit in the Premier League with such competition, [where it's] so strong physically, with great teams, but it has been an amazing experience this first season.

"I try to learn every day from him [Guardiola]. He has helped me a lot, especially tactically. It's been the first time I played alone as a holding midfielder, so I have to adapt to the new situation. I'm happy because I fit very well with the team and the club. I feel I'm growing every day."

When it comes to teething problems in the Premier League, Rodri cites a familiar problem for new imports.

"It's another style of football. You can't take a breath or relax during the 90 minutes, not even for one second," he said.

"I realised straight away that in this league you need to think really quickly. I tried to adapt my game in the first games of the season.

"When I got the pace of the Premier League, I also started adapting my game and my skills to the team.

"It wasn't easy, because we have lots of attacking players, but we need to defend as well. One of my biggest responsibilities in the team is specifically that part."

Rodri is playing a role in which Fernandinho has excelled under Guardiola.

However, form and fitness issues for specialists in the position have left the veteran Brazil international operating exclusively at centre-back this season.

"He has helped me a lot," Rodri said of Fernandinho. "He is now playing more often as a centre-back so that he can have a bigger picture of the game.

"He has helped me a lot from the back, [telling me] where to find the spaces.

"What I learnt the most from him is the experience he has. He's 35 years old, he has been at the club for seven seasons now. So I listen to him a lot and try to learn a lot from him."

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