Manchester City’s record signing Rodri said he joined the champions because they are now the dominant force in English football.
Rodri, who has completed a £63million move from La Liga heavyweights Atletico Madrid, wasted no time in taking a dig at rivals Manchester United by claiming Pep Guardiola’s side have turned the city blue.
“Maybe they changed the story,” said the 23-year-old, when asked at his unveiling why so many players are now choosing City over United, who have now seen the neighbours win the title three times since they last did it in 2013. “I think City, this last five or six years, have changed the story of the football here. Not only in Manchester, but England.
“I don’t look for the team, for the club. I look for the challenge on the sporting front – that’s why I moved here.
“I love the city, I love Manchester, I talk with some guys and I think it is becoming more blue. I chose this club because of the football challenge and the way, these last two years, they have won lots of things. This team is growing every year.”
Rodri — full name Rodrigo Hernandez Cascante — only had one full season at Atletico having previously made his name with fellow Spanish side Villarreal, but Guardiola saw enough in those 47 appearances to convince him to make Rodri City’s most expensive buy ever.
A defensive midfielder, he has been bought as the long-term successor to the Blues’ Brazilian enforcer Fernandinho, and has been likened in style to Barcelona and Spain stalwar Sergio Busquets.
City had to eclipse the £60m they paid Leicester for Riyad Mahrez a year ago to get him, but Rodri insisted he is not fazed by his new-found status as the costliest player in their history.
“For me, it’s just a number,” he said. “I don’t like talking about money. I’m a footballer, playing football. I like people only to ask me about what I’m doing on the pitch. I don’t get excited about these things, I get excited by coming to a huge club.
“I know it’s going to be very tough. Here, they have the greatest players in the world, so I’m going to work all day to say, ‘Coach, I’m ready to be in that position’. “I’m going to fight every day. I can help this team a lot, which is why I came here. I’m excited to start and show my football.”
Already fluent in English, Rodri said he also chose City over perennial German champions Bayern Munich because of Guardiola and his track record of improving players.
“For me, there were no more options once I knew this club was interested in me,” said the six-cap Spain international. “There was no doubt.
“Of course there were more teams interested, and I’m really proud of that, but I’ve made a good decision. It’s the place I wanted to be. I think Guardiola is the greatest coach in the world and that’s what made me come here.
“The people who play for him tell me he’s very committed and likes teaching players. Football players, we talk about everything. You talk about City, how the team is doing and Guardiola.Barcelona players- and Thiago at Bayern – told me, ‘He’s [Guardiola] like this and he acts like that.’
“That’s one of the things I like most about this coach. They told me in the Spanish national team that he likes improving you all the time and he doesn’t stop. So for me it’s very important. It’s one of the main reasons I came here.”
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