Rodri: 6 Things to Know About Atlético Madrid’s €70m-Rated Star

?La Liga fan or not, chances are the name Rodri – or Rodrigo Hernández Cascante for those of you who like that sort of thing – might just ring a bell or two.

The Atlético Madrid midfielder has only really spent the 2018/19 campaign in the spotlight following a €20m switch from Villarreal, but less than one calendar year into his second stint with Los Rojiblancos, Rodri is already establishing himself as a household name.

So if you don’t know too much about the 22-year-old superstar, then here are a handful of pointers as Manchester City consider bringing him to the Premier League sooner rather than later.


He’s Built in the Pep Guardiola Mould

Rodrigo Hernandez "Rodri"

In its most basic sense, someone being built in Pep Guardiola’s mould tells you everything you need to know about a player. 

They can pass a ball better than most of their teammates, hold onto possession with relative ease, and for young players at least, their ability to read the game surpasses anyone else in the same age bracket.

But Rodri is a lot more than just a sprinkle of Sergio Busquets here and a thimble of Xabi Alonso there, because the technically gifted Spain international is establishing himself as his own player and not just the best bits of what came before.

At Atlético, he sits second on the number of passes he makes per game and is in silver once again with his accuracy – which at 91% is higher than any Manchester City midfielder in the Premier League this season.


He Was Released Due to a Lack of Physical Strength

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It was in 2007 that Rodri got his first shot at life with Atletico Madrid in his hometown, leaving youth team Rayo Majadahonda to develop with Los Rojiblancos.

But after six years with the club’s youth teams, Rodri was allowed to walk away on a free transfer as he was lacking physically at youth level – and he moved to Spain’s east coast to develop even further.

Fast forward five years with the Yellow Submarines and Rodri now uses his body better than almost anyone else in Atletico’s squad.

The 22-year-old wins more fouls than any other regular first-team player at the Wanda Metropolitano, while he’s also dispossessed less than once per game, and his ability on the ball helps to make him one of the most exciting youngsters who would be perfect at the base any midfield.


He’s Already Got International Pedigree

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The Spanish national team is hardly struggling for quality in midfield, which makes Rodri’s ability to break into the squad over a year ago even more impressive.

So far in his international career, the Atlético Madrid star has started in half of his six appearances, with La Roja currently unbeaten when Rodri has featured on the pitch.

The 22-year-old has hardly cemented his place in Spain’s starting eleven, unsurprising given that Sergio Busquets, Saúl Ñíguez and Thiago Alcântara are still at the peak of their powers, but he’s been part of every one of Luis Enrique’s squads since the World Cup.


He’s a (Proper) Defensive Midfielder

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It’s easy to be slapped with a reputation as a midfielder in Spain, one that – just like this article – says how great someone would be under Pep Guardiola before anything else.

But while Atléti’s Rodri does have all the technical ability that fans have come to expect from players in La Liga, he’s head and shoulders ahead of other stars in his position for his defensive work.

How much of Rodri’s ability on the back foot being put down to Diego Simeone’s system is yet to be seen, but the midfielder has averaged more tackles per game than any other player at the Wanda Metropolitano.

In a squad that’s brimming with defensive talent, Rodri is also level with veteran centre-back Diego Godín for the number of blocks he makes in a match.


He Was Voted in a ‘Team of the Tournament’ With Spain

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While stars like Marco Asensio, Germany’s Timo Werner and France winger Kingsley Coman stole the headlines at the Under-19 European Championships in Greece four years ago, few players were as important for their side than Rodri.

The midfielder was the engine of Luis de la Fuente’s side and played all but three minutes of the entire tournament as Spain went on to lift the trophy, beating the likes of France and Germany on route to the final.

Spain lost during the group stages to an exciting Russia side, but La Roja made amends in the final by beating Dmitri Khomukha’s side – which included Monaco’s Aleksandr Golovin – thanks to goals from Borja Mayoral and Matías Nahuel.

Rodri was among six Spain players to feature in the Team of the Tournament, including the competition’s Golden Boy winner Asensio.


He Was Described as the ‘Sergio Busquets That Escaped’

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Rodri had spent two years in Villarreal’s youth system by the time he started to make a name for himself in 2015, and it was at the Under-19 European Championships that the midfielder was really allowed to take that next step.

Spain’s clash with France in the semi-finals of the competition saw him line up against a former youth teammate in Madrid, Lucas Hernandez, and it was a clash between two players – who by all means were still good friends – that prompted Mundo Deportivo to describe Rodri as the “Busquets that escaped” Atlético Madrid.

While things eventually came full circle when Rodri returned to Atléti in 2018, those links with Spain’s midfield general some nine months before he made his La Liga debut showed just how highly rated the youngster was, and precisely how good the Rojiblancos academy product could become.

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