Man City: Peerless Rodri can have decisive say in title race despite shock awards snub

Overlooked for the Ballon d’Or shortlist, Spanish midfielder has now missed out on a Premier League Player of the Year nomination
Nick Purewal2 minutes ago

On the pitch, Rodri cannot lose. Off it, the Manchester City star has lurched from not winning to not even making the shortlist.

The Spain midfielder is unbeaten in his past 71 matches for City, and if the 27-year-old extends his record run without defeat in all club competitions by a Premier League player to 74, then he will also lift his fourth English title.

Three months ago, Rodri bemoaned being overlooked for the Ballon d’Or as “based on marketing, money and advertising”.

Lionel Messi received his eighth global gong, while Rodri insisted he was not surprised, hinting at a latent bias against Spanish midfielders. This week, Rodri was not even shortlisted for the Premier League’s player of the season award.

If the peerless holding midfielder was frustrated with fifth place in a global player ranking, just imagine his reaction to not being deemed good enough even for the Premier League conversation.

A Treble winner last year, perhaps a Double winner this, Rodri is a player of sumptuous quality, able to transform even a team as accomplished as City.

Pep Guardiola’s side are incomplete in his absence. Everything City strive to deliver becomes that touch easier when Rodri is on hand, ploughing through the work of two players.

Snubbed: Man City star Rodri was not even nominated for Premier League Player of the Year

His fellow professionals talk in hushed tones of a player who, at times, is almost impossible to dispossess. Several opponents have lamented that they could not even get near him when facing City.

Every time City besiege an opponent’s final third, with Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne and more all looking to thread killer passes, that platform was laid in either part or full by Rodri.

In a system where fractions add up to a destructive whole, Rodri employs a host of subtleties to shave off a split second here and there. In isolation these can be ignored or even missed, but a half-step extra in positioning, a tiny feint to draw out a defender, each meticulous move builds towards the eventual time and space for chances on goal.

City head to Fulham on Saturday with the odds stacked in their favour. Guardiola’s side have won their past 15 matches against the west London outfit in all competitions.

They also have a rare chance to play first this weekend, turning the title-race pressure on rivals Arsenal, who do not face Manchester United at Old Trafford until Sunday.

Rodri and Co could be top by mid-afternoon on Saturday, and still have a game in hand on the Gunners.

With nine major trophies at City, no wonder the Madrid native recently claimed to favour collective achievements over personal awards, shortlist or no shortlist.