Over the summer, Premier League champions Manchester City spent another £62M to continue building out the richest squad in football for manager Pep Guardiola when they signed Rodrigo Hernández Cascante—or just Rodri—from Atletico Madrid.
The 23-year-old midfielder, though, says Guardiola’s defending league champions aren’t actually the ones to beat. It’s rivals Liverpool who are, given last season’s European triumph, 97-point domestic season, and now their perfect league start.
“The team to beat is Liverpool now,” Rodri told ESPN. “That has been seen the last two seasons. They are the champions of Europe so everyone wants to beat them. They have improved a lot of things and they’re the best team in England and in Europe.”
It’s a reflection, perhaps, of just how much value the game’s top players put on the Champions League—no matter the protestations by Guardiola and his City bosses that it’s the English league that’s most difficult to win and matters most.
Alternately, perhaps, it’s just a player looking to talk up a domestic rival, to perhaps make them feel a touch complacent with a very early eight-point lead in the league table as they look to break what is now a thirty-year title drought.
Either way, though, it’s the kind of talk you never would have heard about Liverpool even four years ago when Jürgen Klopp signed on to manage them, and it’s more proof if any was needed that the Reds are now back on their perch.