Rodrigo Hernández Cascante might not have thought he was now Manchester City’s most expensive player after being bought from Atletico Madrid for a fee of 70 million euros.
Six years ago he was considered too weak by Atleti so he was released from the club academy.
Without the transfer fee Villareal accommodates it. Furthermore, they successfully brushed Rodri’s talent. Two seasons at the Villarreal academy, he successfully promoted to the senior team and mastered the Yellow Submarines midfield . Even in the 2017/18 season he began serving as the team captain and mainstay in the midfield when Bruno Soriano, their main captain, suffered a long injury early in the season.
Rodri did become a leader with Villarreal. The player born on June 23, 1996 is a great thinker. When physical abilities become a weakness, it makes its intelligence its main strength.
“In professional football, if you think for half a second, it’s too long, your opponent can grab the ball from you. The best players are those who can calm down in a precarious situation,” Rodri said when interviewed by Goal in November 2018.
Rodri is a favorite of coaches who work for him because he is able to translate instructions very well. His ability stood out when the team played with high-pressing . No wonder he began to be mentioned as a successor to Sergio Busquets in the Spanish national team.
“He [Rodri] is a top player, offering a lot of quality,” said Albert Celades, his former coach in the Spanish Under-21 national team. “Even though he had physical problems, he was very good at surviving and in one on one situations. Tactically he was very good. But above all, the thing that stole my attention the most from him was with his posture, he played very fast with both legs, very perfect when playing in high-pressure areas . “
“He does things that are usually difficult to be simpler. Like [Sergio] Busquets, he has intuition in placing himself, also understands where to get the lost ball,” Celades continued.
At Villarreal, Rodri had played in a 4-3-1-2 pattern. Then when trained by Marcelino Garcia Toral, this Madrid-born player played in a 4-4-2 basic pattern. That was also what made him recruited again by Atletico Madrid, where Diego Simeone often played with a basic 4-4-2 pattern.
The 4-4-2 pattern requires two central midfielders who have high mobility to reach all areas in the midfield area both in attack and defense. Of course it’s not easy to find players like this in the current era, given the proliferation of 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 patterns.
Rodrigo is therefore one of the special midfielders owned by Spain. At Villarreal he succeeded in replacing Bruno, whose ability declined due to being taken away, while at Atletico his presence made Atleti and Simeone fans get a replacement figure for Gabi who left the Qatar League.
At Atletico, Rodri wore number 14, the last seven of which was identical to the figure of Gabi. The number is quite iconic at Atleti because Simeone used the same number while still working as a player at Los Colchoneros .
Together with Rodri, Manchester City will not expect the 23-year-old to score many goals. Statistically there is nothing striking about it. Last season from 47 matches, only 3 goals and 1 asus he created. Even with key feed statistics, tackles, intercepts, and other important attributes.
Even so, Rodri is predicted to be the right figure as a replacement for Fernandinho at the post of the defensive midfielder in the 4-3-3 pattern of Pep Guardiola’s mainstay.
Rodri Ak has physical abilities such as Fernandinho. But Rodri can act as a regista. In Italian, regista means director. In football, registrants will become leaders, provide direction both when attacking and defending, even arguably the most responsible figure in determining the direction of the attack while breaking the opponent’s counterattack.
Physical ability is not the main benchmark for becoming a registrar. Look at the figure of Andrea Pirlo when leading the AC Milan midfield, Juventus and the Italian national team. Although it looks frail, but the ball is not easily snatched from its feet. He remained calm when the pressure came from the opponent. That calm then makes him able to make the right decision to build an attack through accurate bait. Even when defending, Pirlo only needs to wait for the right moment to cut the ball or limit the movement of opponents who are in possession of the ball.
“He [Pirlo] is one of the few players who when you talk a little or not speak, he understands by itself,” said Carlo Ancelotti, Pirlo’s coach while playing at AC Milan. “For me, he is the strongest central midfielder in the world.”
Rodri can do that. Just like Pirlo, also Fernandinho, he is a player who always approaches the front area of the defense penalty box when his team builds attacks. From there he began to create attacks and provide calm when facing a counterattack situation.
Rodri’s posture which now reaches 191cm will also make Pep more reliable. In the English Premier League, air balls are one of the crucial moments both during attack and defense. Rodri’s quick response to reading the second ball will be tested while working in England.
With Fernandinho, who is 34 years old, Rodri’s presence will clearly make Pep more relieved. Previously there was no matched player who could replace the Brazilian midfielder. Keep in mind, one of the causes of Man City’s failure in the Champions League last season was that Fernandinho was not fit when they faced Tottenham Hotspur, where Fernandinho was only in the second round.
Therefore Rodri may not be the perfect replacement for Fernandinho. But Rodri will give a different color to Man City’s midfield. His tactic understanding can maintain the quality of Man City when they do not rely on Fernandinho. Together with Fernandinho’s guidance, Rodri was able to make City’s midfield far more frightening and City made no mistake in making them their most expensive player.