At just 23 years of age, Rodrigo (Rodri) Hernandez’s £63m move to Manchester City might raise a few eyebrows.
After all, not too much is known at this stage in England about the Atletico Madrid midfielder who is being hailed as the new Sergio Busquets in some quarters. High praise indeed.
At a not too dissimilar age, Pep Guardiola gave ‘Busi’ his bow in the greatest FC Barcelona team of all time, so it’s no surprise that the Catalan was interested in a player that is likely to be Busquets’ successor at national team level.
Rodri spent much of his youth career at Atletico Madrid, but was released and joined Villarreal, the team with whom he made his professional debut.
A series of commanding performances in central midfield saw him join Atleti just over a year ago, for a fee in the region of €20m plus variables.
After having lost so many players already this summer, an uplift with regard to his transfer fee isn’t likely to be enough to pacify the club’s supporters, let alone Diego Simeone, who must be seething at the player having such a low buyout clause.
Particularly when you consider he was one of those that the Rojiblancos were going to be building the team around for years to come.
Of all of the players that Cholo is losing, it’s Rodri’s departure that could be the keenest felt. Like Busquets, he rarely grabs the headlines, but you certainly realise when he’s not patrolling his area of the pitch.
The donkey work he gets through may well be largely unnoticed by the masses, but not by his teammates and staff.
To that end, he will be a sound addition to a City team who play on the front foot at all times and who are tactically proficient throughout.
One of his strongest attributes is the in-game knowledge he possesses, coupled with the innate gift of being able to pick the right moment to make a pass, even when under the severest pressure.
He doesn’t rush. Ever.
Rodri will be calmness personified sat in front of City’s back four, studying the canvas in front of him and ready to allow his brush strokes to paint his own personal masterpiece… in his own time, like all great artists.
At six foot three, he’s physically imposing too, another strength that he often uses to his advantage.
And it’s unusual to find a player with such presence to have two good feet also, but that’s exactly what Rodri possesses.
With City so far out in front in the Premier League, a Liverpool challenge notwithstanding, it’s difficult to find players who will genuinely make them even better, but the Spaniard is certainly one of them.
With Fernandinho no longer the force that he once was, there is room for Rodri to slot right in and keep the Citizens ticking over in much the same style as the Brazilian has managed these past few years.
He is efficient in possession, rarely wasteful and will keep the rhythm and flow of a particular move intact. Precisely the things that Guardiola wants from his defensive midfielder.
In short, he can, and most likely will, quickly become the new fulcrum for City and potentially the missing link in Europe. Champions League success beckons.
Yes, he’s that good, and soon to be a household name across Europe, not just in Spain.