Erling Haaland stole the headlines, but Rodri was imperious against West Ham on the Premier League opening weekend.
Erling Haaland stole the show in Manchester City’s 2-0 victory over West Ham on Sunday.
The Norwegian scored a lethal brace to kickstart City’s Premier League defense at a stadium that hasn’t always been a happy hunting ground in recent years. Despite Haaland’s brilliance, one man in particular continued to demonstrate why City are in good hands for the foreseeable future.
Gary Neville, a former Manchester United player turned pundit, compared Rodri to Sergio Busquets near the end of the game. After a brief exclamation of delight, he stated: “He resembles Busquets. Not to his level, but he’s not far off — he’s performing at an extremely high level.”
It’s not the first time Rodri’s imperious demeanor has drawn attention. Last season, City fans were full of praise for their No.16, and after scoring a club-record seven goals, many were perplexed by his omission from the PFA Team of the Year.
However, the Spaniard is not one for the spotlight. He recently completed a degree in business administration and management while also playing football, and he has never used social media.
Rodri’s performance in the center of midfield may have been overshadowed by Haaland’s arrival, but the statistics don’t lie. Given how easily West Ham have been able to get past the Blues’ defense in the past, the 26-year-100% old’s completion of both take-ons and ground duels was critical in disrupting the Hammers’ momentum.
Rodri’s 95 passes at a 94 per cent completion rate is an outstanding return, but it’s a stat City fans have become so accustomed to since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2019. Very rarely does he lose possession, and his massive frame allows him to shift the ball between multiple bodies with ease.
There were a few occasions across the 90 minutes where the midfielder just stuck his body between the ball and player to get City out of danger. West Ham’s danger-men could not live with his constant harrying and started to try and bypass him by hitting balls into the channels.
Considering this was the opening game of the Premier League season, it was a performance close to flawless and Pep Guardiola recognised that — among a few others — in his post-match interview.
As the season goes on, Rodri will have to share the workload with Kalvin Phillips to maintain his physical fitness, but there is no doubt he will be the go-to man in all of City’s biggest games this season.
If anyone was worried about losing Fernandinho, Rodri’s continued brilliance will have eased their concerns. He is growing as a player and his importance on Guardiola’s City side is growing day by day.