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De Bruyne: Rodri is the perfect Fernandinho replacement

09:25 BST 29/07/2019
Rodri Manchester City 2019-20
The Belgian forward believes his new teammate has all the attributes required to succeed the influential Brazilian at Etihad Stadium

Kevin De Bruyne says summer signing Rodri is the perfect replacement for Fernandinho in the heart of Manchester City’s midfield.

The Spain international became City’s club-record signing when he made a €70 million (£63m/$79m) move to Etihad Stadium from Atletico Madrid at the start of this month.

The midfielder has been tipped to be a long-term successor for Fernandinho, who turned 34 in May and suffered from a number of injuries last season.

The Brazilian midfielder was a regular absentee during the second half of the campaign, making just three starts between the end of February and the end of the season as City secured a domestic treble.

Ilkay Gundogan and Fabian Delph, who has since departed for Everton, were often asked to fill in for Fernandinho last term but Rodri is seen much more as a like-for-like replacement.

The midfielder has impressed for the Premier League champions during their four-game pre-season tour of Asia, including in their 3-1 win over J-League side Yokohama F Marinos in Japan on Saturday.

Man City boss Pep Guardiola singled out the midfielder after the game, labelling his performance as ‘incredible’ and saying he could be a vital player ‘for the next decade.’

He has also earned the praise of his teammate De Bruyne, who predicts a bright future in a City shirt for a Madrid-born player.

"I think he is doing really well," said De Bruyne, who was among the scorers at the Nissan Stadium. "Obviously it's a position that is really difficult to find but I think they definitely found the right man. He has got time enough to settle in and I think he is going to do well."

Raheem Sterling and Lukas Nmecha were also on target for City as they secured victory in their final pre-season game of the summer.

The squad flew back to Manchester straight after the game on Saturday evening to begin their preparations for Sunday’s Community Shield against last season’s title rivals Liverpool at Wembley.

Guardiola’s side then begin the defence of their Premier League title at the London Stadium against West Ham on Saturday, August 10.