Manchester City midfielder Rodri says his move to the Eithad has provided him with a ‘personal and professional challenge’.
The Spanish midfielder moved to City this summer, with them paying £63m to buy out his contract at Atletico Madrid and bring him to England.
The 23-year-old is seen as the long-term successor to Fernandinho, with City showing little hesitation to pay big money and secure a replacement for one of their key men.
Rodri knows he has big shoes to fill if he is to replace the Brazilian and admits he’s never had such an essential role in any team.
“A player has to go through stages,” he told El País.
“In all the teams I’ve been going through I felt it was the place I had to be. Now in the City, I have a totally different role.
“I have never had such an important role in such a key position in that team as the midfielder. It is different from everything I’ve found. For me, it is a personal and professional challenge.”
The move to Manchester City has so far been a learning experience for Rodri, who has had to quickly adapt to a completely different style of football under his new manager.
While Diego Simeone is a master of defensive football, preferring his side to defend deep and resolutely, Guardiola is an attacking manager in every sense of the word.
That means Rodri now finds himself playing a different role than he’s accustomed to, and says Guardiola instilled in him a desire to learn this new game.
“He instilled in me the desire to learn, to understand the game he was proposing and to fully immerse myself in the dynamics of a team that has been winning.”
“You learn on the field, I am the player who can least afford to lose his position, and I have to occupy a quite large radius of action.
“It is about knowing how to position oneself, choosing the moments well, because if you choose them badly, they (opponents) go past you and face the central defenders.
“It is an apprenticeship that cost me a little in the first weeks, and that is logical coming from another league and another team.”
A crucial part of Guardiola’s system is the use of ‘tactical fouls’ to break up opponents’ attacks when they hit City on the counter.
The tactic has received criticism from some corners, with plenty believing that it is against the spirit of the game.
City are usually loathed to admit it’s a part of their style, but Rodri is more forthcoming, admitting it’s something he’s still learning to master.
“It’s playing a role that was not so usual for me, knowing how to stop the game, the tactical foul, knowing when I have to squeeze or stay,” he added.
“I don’t know if I was running more at Atlético or now, but the feeling is that with the City I end games feeling dead.”