Sunday, February 5, 2023

Barcelona Trailing Manchester City In Race For Spanish Midfielder: Why They Should Double Their Efforts

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Anas Molla
An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.

According to The Sun, FC Barcelona are trailing Manchester City in the pursuit of Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri. The Spaniard has enjoyed a superb debut campaign under Diego Simeone and has attracted the interest of a host of top teams across Europe, including Barcelona.

However, the report claims that the Blaugrana are likely to miss out on the capture of Rodri, with Manchester City tipped as the favourites to sign the Atleti midfielder this summer. And this could serve as a massive blow for Ernesto Valverde’s men in the long-run.

Rodri’s dream season at Atletico

Rodri joined Atletico from Villarreal for a fee of €20 million last summer. Since then, he has emerged as a key player for Los Rojiblancos, featuring in 34 league matches. His combative style of play in midfield has made him a tailor-made fit for Simeone’s heavy-metal football.

As a result, Rodri has built a formidable midfield partnership with Thomas Partey at the base of Atletico’s 4-4-2 formation. Both of these midfielders are known for their defence-oriented nature and have provided excellent defensive cover for the backline. Atletico have boasted the meanest defence in the league, conceding just 29 goals.

Rodri has averaged a whopping three tackles per game – a tally only bettered by Nacho Fernandez in the league this season (at least 2,000 minutes played). Additionally, the Spaniard has averaged over one interception and two clearances, which is indicative of his ability to shield the backline.

Why Barcelona need to double their efforts in the pursuit of Rodri

Barcelona have, more or less, maintained their consistency in the domestic campaign under Valverde this season. But, they have often looked defensively vulnerable, especially against quality teams, with their 4-0 defeat to Liverpool being the prime example. The duo of Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet is one of the most gifted defensive combinations in Europe. But, they lack someone who can provide additional defensive cover in front of them, with Sergio Busquets already nearing the final phase of his career.

Arturo Vidal has also struggled to impose his presence in midfield, especially in the Champions League. And much like Busquets, the Chilean is also in the final stage of his career, thus accentuating the need for a new holding midfielder. Rodri, to that end, could be a perfect option for the Catalans.

As iterated earlier, the Spaniard is adept in offering protection to the backline with his combative, defensive attitude. And his aggression, coupled with his high-defensive work-rate, will surely bring another dimension to the Barcelona midfield, chock-full of technically gifted players.

Rodri can operate alongside Busquets in the double-pivot should Valverde opt for a 4-2-3-1 next season. Alternatively, he can also feature as a central midfielder in their preferred 4-3-3. But one thing is for sure – the addition of Rodri will make Barcelona much more vigilant in midfield and thereby, transform them into a complete unit as they aim to conquer Europe next season. Hence, the Spanish giants should double up their efforts in the pursuit of this hugely talented Spanish midfielder this summer.

Stat courtesy: Whoscored

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