Gareth Barry says Rodrigo can flourish at the base of Manchester City’s midfield as he praised the Spaniard’s football intelligence.

The holding midfield role is one Barry knows well, having performed there with distinction for Roberto Mancini’s 2011/12 Premier League title-winning side and the recently retired 39-year-old has been particularly impressed with the man currently tasked with shielding City’s back four.

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“Rodri for me has done a great job and is definitely underrated,” he said during his recent appearance on the We’re Not Really Here matchday show.

Pep Guardiola isn't signing Rodri for his pace but for his understanding of the game. If City can get a regular back four behind him their partnership will blossom that's for sure.”

Often an unsung hero whose efforts enabled those in front of him to shine, Barry provided invaluable protection to City’s defence during his four seasons at the Etihad Stadium.

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Fast forward seven years and he feels that whilst the deep-lying midfielder role retains a defensive focus, there are subtle differences between what he was asked to do and what is required of Rodrigo.

“It's slightly different now, especially at times earlier this season,” Barry explained.

“I played in there with Nigel De Jong and Yaya [Toure], so more defensively minded.

“It's having the balance of dominating the ball and having the cover for when the opponents get the ball back.”

In his role at centre-half, Joleon Lescott was one of the beneficiaries of Barry’s efforts in Mancini’s championship winning team.

Like his former team-mate, he believes Rodrigo will continue to get better the more familiar he becomes with City’s new-look defence, which has been prevented from enjoying a settled run due to injuries.

“There needs to be a lot of communication,” added Lescott.

“Gareth was so important for me and Vinnie [Kompany] stopping passes coming through. A lot don't notice it, but it is so important.

“It comes with time, the more they play together the more they'll recognise weaknesses.”

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