Rodri

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Community Shield preview: Man City v. Liverpool

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It’s rare that Pep Guardiola shows if his feathers are ruffled, but Friday saw the Manchester City manager rebel against criticism from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds’ manager has continuously downplayed Liverpool’s spending power as Liverpool has failed to land a marquee target this summer, pointing to Man City and Paris Saint-Germain as clubs who can spend every window.

[ MORE: Newcastle adds Ligue 1 stat star ]

And Guardiola, who was outspent by Klopp last season, admits that the comments got under his skin. From The Manchester Evening News:

“It bothers me. Of course it bothers me, because it’s not true that we spend £200million in every transfer market,” said Guardiola. “That is not true. So it’s Liverpool, you’ll never walk alone, so it’s not a small team. It’s Liverpool. So of course I don’t like it, because it’s not true.”

Klopp, it must be said, has had trouble giving consistent answers about the summer, beginning the window with an admission that he was wrong in saying big transfer fees would not become the norm.

And Liverpool has not been playing well in the run-up to Sunday’s Community Shield against City. The lack of goals isn’t a major surprise given that preseason has mostly lacked Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino, but the Reds are also defending poorly.

All are back for the Shield fight, and City will only be missing Fernandinho who is still building back to fitness after Brazil’s Copa America run.

And Pep is ready, perhaps with a little extra fire from Klopp under an engine which is always running pretty hot anyway.

The thrillers between Man City and Liverpool get a new twist this season with the former’s addition of Rodri, who looks every bit the player for a Guardiola system.

He, as well as the dogged legs of Liverpool’s trident, will probably be the difference on Sunday if City scoops up its first bit of silverware.

Sunday’s match-up will also show us how far this rivalry has come in recent seasons, as it certainly has the feel of a barometer match for the 2019-20 campaign. Who will lay claim to the shield: the Champions League victors or the domestic treble winners?

Man City break transfer record to sign Rodri

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Manchester City have spent a club-record $79 million to buy Rodri from Atletico Madrid.

The Spanish defensive midfielder, 23, has officially arrived at City after Atleti confirmed on Wednesday that the reigning Premier League champions had paid his release clause.

[ MORE: Lampard arrives at Chelsea

Rodri has signed a five-year contract and is the long-term replacement for City’s midfield lynchpin Fernandinho. The former Villarreal star is seen as one of the top holding midfielders in the world, with his exceptional passing, interceptions and tackling ability key to his game.

Speaking about his arrival at City, Rodri is looking forward to working with Pep Guardiola as they go for a PL three-peat.

“What City have achieved in the last two years has been amazing and I’m looking forward to being part of such a talented squad,” Rodri said. “It’s not just the titles they have won, but the way they have managed it, playing attacking football at all times. I can’t wait to start working with Pep Guardiola and my new team-mates and hopefully we can achieve great things together. It’s a style that excites me, as do the Club’s ambitions.”

Rodri only joined Atletico from Villarreal last summer for $25 million, so the La Liga side have done pretty well out of this deal.

City have gone about their business very quietly this summer, and this was a key area they needed to address.

When Fernandinho was out injured last season they badly missed his presence in midfield as the likes of Fabian Delph, Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva struggled to hold down the defensive midfield role.

Rodri’s passing ability is undoubted and the lanky midfielder is very much the heir apparent to Sergio Busquets as the best defensive midfielder around.

With City signing former left back Angelino after his impressive season at PSV Eindhoven, they have already addressed their top two needs in the transfer market. Right back Joao Cancelo could also join from Juventus, as City’s attacking depth is clear for all to see, although Sergio Aguero can’t go on forever and another option up top aside from Gabriel Jesus may be handy.

If Guardiola’s side can add another center back this summer then they should be pretty much set for the new season as they aim to go one better than winning three trophies and complete the quadruple they wanted to badly last season.

Rodri will be a key piece in Guardiola’s jigsaw for many years to come.

Transfer rumor roundup: Neymar for Coutinho plus cash? Dembele to Liverpool?

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The rumors are plenty to finish the work week, so let’s dive right into the buzz around the Premier League summer.

The Rodri-to-City reports have been long-running, but that didn’t stop another team from trying a 23rd hour move for the Atletico Madrid midfielder.

Kicker in Germany reports that Bayern Munich tried to swoop into the picture and snatch the player away from Man City, but that Rodri remains sold on working with Pep Guardiola and the Premier League champions.

Barcelona’s hopes of acquiring Neymar for far less than what some say could be a $300 million transfer fee involves a part-swap deal.

AS says that Barca would offer Paris Saint-Germain $100 million plus Philippe Coutinho in exchange for Neymar’s services.

Given Neymar’s injury history and off-field issues, maybe PSG will jump at that and use the $100 million on one of the many players linked with the club this offseason. From Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi to Real’s James Rodriguez, that money would be useful.

And Barca is going to be selling any number of players this offseason, but would you believe they’d admit failure in the case of Ousmane Dembele?

Don Balon reports that Liverpool of all teams is ready to spend nearly $170 million on Dembele, giving them at-worst insurance and at-best a replacement for any moves made by Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah (who are widely reported as happy at Anfield).

Finally, Sky Sports says Inter Milan’s action on Romelu Lukaku could not happen until June 30 when Financial Fair Play sanctions relax on the Serie A unit.

United apparently wants around $90 million for the Belgian striker, while Inter is hoping to spend a little more than half of that figure.

Inter would also, Sky says, have to sell Mauro Icardi and there’s been little interest in the prolific but controversial striker. Not a huge surprise.

Report: Man City agree to pay Rodri’s release clause

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Manchester City have reportedly agreed to pay the release clause in Rodri’s Atletico Madrid contract.

Several outlets say that City will pay the $73 million for the defensive midfielder, who is seen as the long-term replacement for Fernandinho in the heart of their midfield.

If the deal is completed, Rodri will be City’s new club-record signing.

Our partners at Sky Sports believe that City and Rodri are now set for talks over personal terms, and that the 22-year-old Spanish international is keen to move this summer with Bayern Munich also interested in him.

They also add that Rodri is City’s number one central midfield target for this summer, as he has turned down the chance to join Man United in favor of the back-to-back Premier League champions. A solid move on his part, many would say.

Atletico only signed Rodri from Villarreal last summer for $27.5 million and although Diego Simeone wanted to keep him, the midfielder has spent the past few weeks deliberating over his future and he’s decided to move on.

Is he the perfect fit for the ‘Fernandinho role’ at City? Absolutely.

Rodri has supreme ability on the ball and his passing prowess will see him slot into Pep Guardiola‘s side seamlessly. But coming from a team like Atletico Madrid, where Simeone demands defensive nous, determination and focus, proves that he is the perfect replacement for Fernandinho.

Last season in La Liga he had a 91.1 percent passing accuracy over 34 games, while he also made 103 tackles and 280 recoveries. The latter two numbers were significantly higher than Fernandinho at City, but of course, Atletico Madrid’s style of play is more combative and vastly different to Man City.

You don’t hold down a spot as Atletico’s holding midfielder if you can’t mix it up as well as stroke the ball around, and when you watch Rodri there are so many similarities to the way Sergio Busquets plays.

The arrival of Rodri would fill a long-term need for City, as they just haven’t been able to replace Fernandinho when he’s been out of the team. The Brazilian midfielder is now 34 years old and although he seems to be maturing like a fine French wine, he would acknowledge that his legendary six-year career at City is close to an end.

Rodri, if he does join City, is as close to a perfect replacement for Fernandinho as you can get.

Report: Man City could use Gabriel Jesus to get Rodri

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At the root of this report is a question to which we don’t know the answer: How highly does Pep Guardiola rate Gabriel Jesus?

A report from Spanish outlet AS says Guardiola could use his young striker to lure Atletico Madrid into a swap deal, landing Manchester City their stirring defensive midfielder Rodri.

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

Rodri is a nearly year older than 22-year-old Jesus, and is more instrumental to his current club. One of Atletico Madrid’s top talents, his $78 million release clause is an obvious route for City.

If Guardiola doesn’t see Jesus as a huge part of the club’s future, however, the manager may be able to go nearly like-for-like money-wise.

Jesus scored nearly every other game for City in all competitions, nabbing 21 goals in 47 matches, and has 13 goals in 27 caps for Brazil. Those are good numbers, especially with still-electric Sergio Aguero turning 31 this summer.

At his relatively tender age, Jesus has appeared 100 times for Man City and his 45 goals are made more impressive by less than 5600 total minutes in those matches.

Giving up on him to complete his midfield is a tough one. We think it’s more likely Guardiola pays the release clause… unless the manager simply doesn’t rate the player.