In an exclusive interview with TNT Sports, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has stressed the importance of Rodri’s presence in midfield and lavished praise on the in-form Phil Foden.
Guardiola was speaking ahead of Manchester City’s match against Everton, which is live on TNT Sports and discovery+ from 11:00 on Saturday, February 10 with kick-off at 12:30.
Rodri has been another key player for City as the team continue their campaign for another treble-winning season, and has not been beaten in the last 52 matches he has played for the side.
“He is an exceptional holding midfielder,” Guardiola told TNT Sports. “He has improved a lot, his impact, his presence, his mentality… it’s really important.
“[He] scores goals, defends well and goes backwards and he moves well in the smaller spaces and the big ones. He reads perfectly where the space is right now. He is a fantastic player.”
Guardiola also praised Rodri’s personality on the pitch, suggesting it was a crucial factor in City’s recent success.
“To have a team succeed a lot over the last years, you need to have great characters and personalities,” he explained. “With just the ideas of the manager and the way you want to play, it’s not enough.”
Both Rodri and Foden have been crucial players for City this season, with the latter scoring the second hat-trick of his career against Brentford in the Premier League earlier this month.
The 23-year-old has already enjoyed significant success with City, but appears to be reaching another level this season while playing in a more central position.
Guardiola admitted it was rewarding to see Foden continuously improve, but said the player’s recent performances were “exclusively” down to his own work.
“He loves to play football, and the impact especially this season and last in terms of goals and movements close to the box have been really, really important,” Guardiola said prior to the Premier League clash with Everton, live on TNT Sports on Saturday.
When asked what the secret was behind Foden’s excellent form, Guardiola suggested it was because of his preference to play in the middle of the pitch, rather than on the wing.
“I don’t know,” Guardiola answered. “Maybe because he is calm, everything is settled and still enjoys playing the position that he likes to play. He said that [he prefers playing in a central role].
“It’s important that Phil can play in five positions and all up front. I think he plays really good in every position, but of course he likes to have a sense of goal like [only] a few players I have seen. Living close to the box is important.”