Man City star can become England’s greatest ever Invincible this weekend as Walker claims Declan Rice isn’t at his level

RODRI is bidding to become English ­football’s greatest “Invincible” in the Manchester derby on Sunday.

The Manchester City colossus last lost a club game at Tottenham in ­February 2023.

GettyRodri has not lost a game with Manchester City for more than 12 months[/caption]

Kyle Walker does not believe Declan Rice is on Rodri’s levelGetty

Since then he has gone 58 appearances unbeaten — equalling the record set by former Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho.

A draw or a win for the midfielder against Manchester United this weekend will see him go ahead of that mark and emphasise, once again, his importance to Pep Guardiola’s team.

No wonder his City team-mates claim the 27-year-old is the “finished article” — and put him in contention for one of football’s top player prizes.

Asked if he should be in the frame for the Ballon d’Or, City skipper Kyle Walker said: “For what he did last season, what we did as a club, and the specialist he is in his position, he should be mentioned.

“He doesn’t have social media. I don’t know . . . maybe it’s that!”

It cannot be a coincidence that City have been unbeatable with Rodri in their line-up for over a year.

When he was suspended early in the season, after a red card against Nottingham Forest, City lost all three games without him — at Newcastle, Wolves and Arsenal.

City made a move for England’s Declan Rice in the summer before he opted to join Arsenal for £105million from West Ham.


Rodri and Rice’s Premier League stats so far this season

Walker is a huge fan of 25-year-old Rice but says he is not yet at Rodri’s level.

He added: “I don’t think there is a better holding midfielder in the world right now than Rodri.

“Rice is playing really well and Mikel Arteta can teach him the philosophy and probably the Barcelona way that Rodri has grown up watching.

“Dec’s got more than enough capability of doing that but he’s not the ­finished article.

“The finished article — or a step above the rest — at the minute is Rodri.”

Rodri does so much more than just protecting his defence — although he does a pretty decent job of that.

His all-round game has improved. He pops up with some huge goals, none bigger than the one in Istanbul which won the Champions League in June.

Walker added: “What’s key about him is his consistency, the level he always plays at and how he adapts and dedicates himself to the game.”

Defender Nathan Ake is grateful for the barrier that Rodri gives the City backline — but says there is so much more to his game than that.

The Dutch international said: “Rodri is massive for us. He’s probably the best in the world in his position.

“The way he controls games and in vital moments comes up with crucial goals. He’s a great all-rounder.”

It seems strange that after a largely underwhelming first season in 2019-20, some pundits wondered if the £62.5m signing was ready to step into the shoes of City legend Fernandinho.

He has proved the doubters wrong in the three years since and wrote his name into club folklore with that goal to beat Inter to complete the Treble.

Although he was given the night off at Luton this week — and City still rattled in six without him — he has become indispensable to Guardiola for the biggest games.

During the pre-season tour of the Far East, Rodri admitted his workload had been too much.

The medics at the Etihad seem to have listened as Phil Foden, Walker and Ederson have all played more minutes than him this season.

City want Rodri available when it really matters and since his red-mist moment against Forest in September, he has cleaned up his act.

He has not been booked in his last seven domestic appearances — meaning his seven yellow cards give him some leeway before what could be a costly suspension.

City have managed without key men such as Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne — but losing Rodri for any length of time would be a more significant blow.

Walker heaped praise on team-mate RodriReuters

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