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Ilkay Gundogan reveals half-an-hour Pep Guardiola training ground discussions held by Manchester City star



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Pep Guardiola held special one-to-one conversations with one of his side’s present day superstars early on during their work together at Manchester City, it has been revealed.

That focus concerned one of the present day game’s best midfield operators, with Rodri having experienced a rapid phase of growth in terms of development since first moving to the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2019.

Manchester City moved quickly during that particular summer transfer window to ensure that they would be the club to trigger the Spaniard’s release clause, and the decision to do so has turned out to be one of the finest moments in the club’s recent history.

Most notably, Rodri was the goalscorer in Manchester City’s first ever UEFA Champions League final success and has held down the mainstay defensive midfield position without too much competition since his arrival at the club, proving to be integral in the tactical system.

But that rise to the very top of the defensive midfield world, and receiving widespread recognition from his fellow colleagues within the game, has not come without extreme hard work and commitment from both himself and his City manager.

Speaking ahead of Germany’s European Championship quarter-final against Spain on Friday evening, captain Ilkay Gundogan and Manchester City legend was keen to issue high praise on his former teammate and UEFA Champions League final goalscorer.

“It’s incredible how much he’s developed,” Gundogan stated. “He stayed long after training with Pep Guardiola. His performances are unmatched. He’s among the best (holding midfielders). But you can make him think with certain things. That’s part of our plan.”

The former Manchester City captain revealed a special detail of the lengths at which Rodri would go in order to ensure his educational progression earlier on in his Etihad Stadium career.

“I still remember when he came to Manchester City. After training, he’d sometimes spend half an hour talking to Pep (Guardiola). He’s simply learned and perfected his game. He’s the best player in the world in his position.”

Friday evening’s battle between Spain and Germany will be the first on-field meeting between Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan since they worked together to mastermind Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Inter in the UEFA Champions League final of 2023.

Gundogan would ultimately bring an end to his time at the Etihad Stadium in the weeks that followed the historic culmination of a Treble success with Manchester City, joining FC Barcelona on a free transfer.

Rodri himself continues to be linked with moves away from Manchester City, as any top-level professional footballer leading in their position would be, but remains committed to the operation at the club and is likely to be rewarded with a fresh contract this summer.

The winner of Rodri’s Spain against Ilkay Gundogan’s Germany will face either Portugal or France in the semi-finals of the 2024 European Championships next week.