THEUPDATE Eye: The players Man City should target to provide cover for Rodri

Upon first arriving in the Premier League, the clumsy and ponderous Rodri was christened as ‘Plodri’ by rivals of Manchester City on social media.

He was quickly deemed ill-suited to the faster pace of England, someone who was unfit to fill Fernandinho’s shoes. How quickly football changes.

You can measure Rodri’s importance to City nowadays by the eye test (which, for a rather boring style of player, he passes with flying colours) or by the numbers – 13% loss rate with him in the team compared to 37.5% out of it. It’s a minor miracle that Florentino Perez hasn’t claimed he has ‘Real Madrid DNA’ and Joan Laporta isn’t trying to find another lever to pull.

For whatever reason, Pep Guardiola clearly doesn’t trust Kalvin Phillips to provide competent competition. But how do you find a suitable replacement to the best defensive midfielder in the world?

The short answer is you will probably have to spend a lot of money, get someone who can play alongside him for the most part and hope for the best.

  • Bruno Guimaraes
Bruno Guimaraes
  • Current club: Newcastle United
  • Pro: Relatively affordable release clause
  • Con: Born-again Geordie

The signing of Bruno Guimaraes midway through the 2021/22 season helped turn Newcastle United from the relegation-candidates they were into the streetwise and tough outfit they’re known as today.

His transformative effect on Tyneside saw Chelsea and Man City make enquiries over the summer, while Real Madrid have also shown an interest.

He’s now put pen to paper on a new long-term contract at St James’ Park, but 90min understands it contains a release cause slightly north of the £100m mark. Considering Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo went for similar amounts, that’s not such a steep price.

Guimaraes’ tactical flexibility would make him both an ideal partner or replacement for Rodri, and luxury teams have these kinds of luxury problems. It’s a signing that would make plenty of sense.

  • Joshua Kimmich
Joshua Kimmich
  • Current club: Bayern Munich
  • Pro: Is Joshua Kimmich
  • Con: Isn’t Rodri

Speaking of midfielders Man City have been keeping an eye on, Joshua Kimmich was considering an exit from Bayern Munich this summer.

Concerns about his lack of physicality compared to the stubborn Rodri (which again is funny considering perceptions just a couple of years ago) can be countered by the fact that Guardiola sides average roughly 99.9% possession per game. Give or take.

Kimmich has experience of playing in a Guardiola system and that should hasten any required transition to England and remove a factor that has plagued many of Man City’s major signings.

  • Martin Zubimendi
Martin Zubimendi
  • Current club: Real Sociedad
  • Pro: Likely a cheaper option
  • Con: Would you recognise him if he walked past you in the street? Maybe you should broaden your horizons, buddy

The lynchpin of Real Sociedad’s recent rise back to prominence has been Martin Zubimendi, who was courted by Arsenal and Barcelona over the summer.

If Guardiola fancies dipping his toes into the cheaper Spanish market again, there aren’t many better options out there than the 24-year-old. Better hurry though, you never know when Laporta is going to start his nonsense again.

  • Douglas Luiz
Douglas Luiz
  • Current club: Aston Villa
  • Pro: Previous experience at Man City
  • Con: Roughly zero appearances for Man City

Back in England, Douglas Luiz is making a name for himself at the heart of Unai Emery’s industrious Aston Villa midfield.

Man City first acquired Luiz back in 2017, but was twice sent on loan to Spanish side Girona after failing to secure a work permit.

By the time he was eligible for one, he was sold to Aston Villa and has since established himself as one of the Premier League’s best midfielders outside of the ‘big six’, with Arsenal trying but failing to sign him last summer.

  • Boubacar Kamara
Boubacar Kamara
  • Current club: Aston Villa
  • Pro: Now a proven and capable midfielder that wouldn’t be a punt
  • Con: Was available for free just over a year ago and that was probably worth a punt

How Aston Villa – at that point managed by Steven Gerrard – managed to waltz into the race to sign Boubacar Kamara on a free transfer from Marseille last year remains startling.

But everyone else’s loss was Aston Villa’s gain and he’s now a key player in the West Midlands, which would undoubtedly be the primary reason why Man City would have to stump up some serious cash in order to sign either him or Luiz.

Fortunately for Man City, that’s hardly ever proven too much of a problem. Yes, I can still see you, FFP.

What we know

  • Man City have lost their last two Premier League games in absence of Rodri
  • Pep Guardiola’s side struggle in absence of Spain midfielder
  • Kalvin Phillips still not trusted as backup option.


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