Fulham star Joao Palhinha claims that Manchester City’s Rodri is the best holding midfielder in the world.
Palhinha himself has been praised for his performances in the no.6 role since arriving from Sporting Lisbon in 2022 and, when he was complimented, the Portuguese international replied that he was still not at Rodri’s level:
“Rodri is a step higher than the other players [in defensive midfield], in my opinion. But it’s good that people like and respect me [because] it shows that my job here has been good. I just focus on the job inside the pitch to try to get wins for my team, hopefully starting with Bournemouth.”
Since City triggered the release clause in Rodri’s contract at Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2019, they have been phenomenally successful. They have won 10 trophies in total, including 3 Premier League titles, the Champions League, 1 FA Cup, 2 Carabao Cups, 1 Community Shield, 1 UEFA Super Cup and 1 FIFA Club World Cup. The Spanish international has been an integral part of the team over that period of time.
City’s record with/without Rodri
The best example that demonstrates the 27-year-old’s importance to Pep Guardiola‘s team is the fact that they are unbeaten in 90 minutes when he has played this season.
With Rodri on the pitch, the Cityzens have won 22 games and drawn 4. The only blemish is a loss on penalties to Arsenal in the Community Shield.
In stark contrast, in the 7 games where Rodri has not featured, his team have won 3 and lost 4.
He is much more than a holding midfielder
While the likes of Palhinha, Manchester United’s Casemiro and Arsenal’s Declan Rice have been praised for their ability to protect the backline, Rodri offers a whole lot more than that.
In City’s midfield, he acts as a metronome where the ball is funnelled through to start attacks. He also provides an end product, having scored 6 goals and provided 7 assists in 21 appearances this campaign.