Record City buy Rodri drawn to Pep

Manchester City's new signing Rodri meets fans during a press conference at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday. The midfielder officially joined City a day after Atletico Madrid revealed his €70 million release clause was triggered.
Manchester City's new signing Rodri meets fans during a press conference at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday. The midfielder officially joined City a day after Atletico Madrid revealed his €70 million release clause was triggered. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Manchester City's new record signing Rodri, 23, believes that the Premier League champions have changed the English football landscape in recent years, and that Spanish players are now more attracted to join the club instead of rivals Manchester United.

The defensive midfielder signed a five-year-deal on Thursday, a day after Atletico Madrid announced the €70 million (S$107 million) release clause in his contract had been triggered by City.

"I talk with some of the guys back home and they tell me the city of Manchester might be becoming more blue," he said.

"I think in the last few years City have changed the story in England, not just in Manchester, but I am not here for the rivalry, I am here for the football challenge."

The Spanish international also said the chance to learn from manager Pep Guardiola was vital to making his club-record move, which eclipses the reported £60 million (S$102.2 million) City paid Leicester for Algeria international Riyad Mahrez last year.

"I hope this year we get the same or more success as the last two years," said Rodri of joining City, who won a domestic treble of trophies in England last season.

"For me, it's a great opportunity. It's a team with great players in every area of the pitch. I think Pep is the greatest coach in the world and that's what made me come.

"It's important for me. I want to learn and grow as a player. I am very young and have a lot of things to do. With his coaching, I am going to grow here."

Rodri's departure will secure a considerable profit for Atletico, who spent €20 million last summer to re-sign him from Villarreal after he was released from their youth ranks as a youngster.

He made 47 appearances for Atletico, scoring three goals, as Diego Simeone's men finished second in LaLiga, above crosstown rivals Real Madrid, and won the Uefa Super Cup.

In Rodri, City hope to have finally found their long-term replacement for the influential Fernandinho. The Brazilian midfielder was a key member of the squad that have won back-to-back Premier League titles under Guardiola.

However, the 34-year-old, currently with the national team in Brazil for the Copa America final, struggled with injuries towards the end of last season.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2019, with the headline 'Record City buy Rodri drawn to Pep'. Print Edition | Subscribe